Number of scripted TV shows is growing
It’s not your imagination: there’s too much television. The number of original scripted television shows hit a record 455 in 2016.
It’s not only impossible to keep up these days, but dangerous to broach dinner party conversation for fear of spoilers.
The amount of original, scripted content — as opposed to unscripted, “reality” fare — across all platforms has spiked in recent years. We are all on our own TV schedules, season to season, episode to episode, niche to niche.
The latest count by FX Networks Research, which has kept a tally for the past five years, identifies 455 scripted original series in 2016 across broadcast, cable and streaming sources.
That estimate “represents an eight percent increase over just last year but an astonishing 71 percent increase over five years ago (266 in 2011),” according to Julie Piepenkotter, Executive Vice President, Research, FX Networks.
Consider the findings some comfort to hostesses attempting to spark inclusive small talk among guests. “No spoilers, I’m only on Season 1!” is common parlance in the age of peak TV.
The count of 455 originals is a whopping 137 percent increase over a decade ago (192 in 2006), when “Desperate Housewives” and “House” were in the Top 10, and when it was conceivable that TV fans (and critics) would have watched all of the current programming.
This year’s explosion in original content is mostly attributable to the push from streaming services, such as
Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. Some 93 scripted series debuted on streaming services this year, nearly three times the number that bowed on pay cable.
(In the category of wildly introspective women, both Issa Rae’s “Insecure” on HBO and Michaela Coel’s “Chewing Gum” on Netflix are worth your while. For the most engrossing and classy show of 2016, “The Crown” on Netflix deserves your attention.)
The boom in scripted series on ad-supported cable networks (such as FX, TNT, USA, ESPN and Hallmark) accounts for a huge chunk of the growth in recent years. Ad-supported cable is up from 66 original series in 2009 to 181 this year, or 174 percent.
In making the tally, FX notes the 455 total does not include daytime dramas, “recently produced imports,” shows aired in languages other than English or kids’ programming.
The possibility looms that the number of scripted shows will exceed 500 in 2017.
“The Crown” might be the most engrossing and classy show of 2016 — but it’s one of many. Robert Viglasky,