Peak TV Hits 455 Original Scripted Series in 2016, FX Study Says

Estimate from FX Networks Research sees 8 percent increase in programming

Peak TV Scripted Series Charts 2016 Updated.xlsx
FX Networks Research

The number of original scripted series reached a new peak of 455 in 2016, according to the latest estimation by FX.

That’s up 8 percent from 2015, driven by a huge boom in series from streaming platforms this year. The number of online series more than doubled year-over-year, increasing from 46 in 2015 to 93 in 2016.

In fact, the FX Networks research team found that the number of shows from broadcast, basic cable and pay cable channels decreased across the board in 2016 — a first since 2010. Broadcast nets went from 150 series last year to 145 in 2016. Basic cable went from 188 to 181, and pay cable dropped from 37 to 36.

“Peak TV was once again far from peaky in 2016, with a record 455 scripted original series across broadcast, cable, and streaming sources,” said Julie Piepenkotter, Executive Vice President, Research, FX Networks. “This estimate reps a +8% increase over just last year (421 in 2015) ― but an astonishing +71% increase over five years ago (266 in 2011) and +137% over a decade ago (192 in 2006).”

FX President John Landgraf coined the phrase “Peak TV” in 2015, when he claimed there was “simply too much television.”

“My sense is that 2015 and 2016 will represent a peak in U.S. TV, and afterward we’ll see a decline,” Landgraf said, predicting that the TV content “bubble” would slowly begin to deflate. “If there are more than 400 shows this year, I don’t think there will be 300 two years from now,” he said at the time.

Then in August of this year, Landgraf updated his prediction, saying that he suspects the “Peak TV” era will come to an end in 2019.

“We’ve lost much of the tread of collective conversation of which shows are good, which shows are great,” Landgraf said. “We’re at our unit capacity of what we can really pay attention to.”