What ‘Killed’ Peak TV? Report Declares ‘Dramatic Dropoff’ in Scripted Shows

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What ‘Killed’ Peak TV? Report Declares ‘Dramatic Dropoff’ in Scripted Shows

By Movieguide® Contributor

A new report is looking into what “killed” Peak TV, from an excess of content to last year’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. 

According to Variety, there has been a “dramatic dropoff” in the production of scripted TV shows: “Peak TV, after a decade-long run, is dead.”

The report pointed to the strikes, Warner Bros. Discovery’s commitment to pulling any projects that weren’t immediately lucrative and the fact that networks and streamers were producing way too much content—the average viewer couldn’t keep up. 

Variety revealed that production on TV shows was already declining before last year’s strikes began, with “shoot days in Los Angeles…down year-over-year in the last three quarters of 2022.”

They also found that “the number of original series on cable had already plummeted 40% from its all-time high a decade ago.”

“What truly sealed the death of peak TV last year,” Variety continued, “was the first-ever drop in series released by U.S.-based SVOD platforms,” adding that it’s unlikely streamers will be able to match their previous level of output. 

Forbes also weighed in on the topic, writing, “Looking ahead, a number of analysts expect the number of scripted series will not be rebounding to any great extent in 2024. As the industry focuses more on streaming and less on linear television, the impact of the strikes will increase the pay and royalty fees to debt-ridden studios, with a reduction in program production among other cost saving strategies.”

“While 2024 will see some level of a bounce back in the content being ordered, many of these titles will be released in 2025, meaning any recovery is likely to be slow going,” Fred Black, an analyst for Ampere, explained. 

Other areas of the television world are suffering, too. Movieguide® previously reported on the lack of unscripted TV projects:

Unscripted TV workers are getting “starved out” as networks cut budgets for reality programming.  

“I don’t think anybody in the nation knows how bad it is in Hollywood, because we still are given this premise that the economy is doing great right now,” Patrick Caligiuri, a producer whose credits include AMERICAN IDOL, BIG BROTHER and THE AMAZING RACE, told Deadline. “There’s a trickle-down effect. First we’re out of business, but then we’re not hiring the catering companies, the drivers, the cube trucks or the production spaces.” 

In addition to shrinking job opportunities for those in the unscripted TV industry, the lack of reality shows also means less bargaining power for those who are still trying to work on shows. 

“We get starved out all the time, and then people just have to work,” an anonymous executive producer told The Hollywood Reporter. “And then you lose your negotiating power and have to take a job and commit to a schedule and a budget that is unrealistic.” 

Investors are now looking into other entertainment venues to make money as TV profits dwindle, putting money into AI, live entertainment and sports. 

Business Insider reported that Runway, an AI company, received “13.6% of media, entertainment, and gaming venture funding in 2023,” while “Sports M&A nearly tripled in three years to $27.9 billion in 2023, driven by deals for team franchises.”

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