Num­ber of scripted TV shows is grow­ing

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Joanne Ostrow

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,

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