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FX CEO John Landgraf is going out on a limb and predicting that the so-called “Peak TV” boom of scripted originals will truly peak this year.
The executive, speaking to reporters Tuesday via the virtual Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, provided a rare mid-year update on the total volume of U.S. scripted originals with that tally clocking in at 357 from Jan. 1 through the end of June. That sum is up 16 percent for the same period last year, which finished with an all-time high of 559 originals.
Landgraf, of course, coined the term “Peak TV” during a TCA presentation a few years ago in which he predicted that the peak would hit in 2018 or 2019. He acknowledged that he was “way, way off” and admitted that his 2022 ceiling could be another “foolish prediction.”
The executive said 2022 is on pace for a “tidal wave” of scripted thanks in large part to the bottleneck of programming that has been able to move forward following the COVID-19 “bottleneck” that was created when production across the globe came to a standstill in 2020. The shutdown created a scheduling nightmare for talent, directors, showrunners, soundstages and other factors that led to a number of shows being dropped but also rolled later to help accommodate the various logistical issues.
“It’s obvious this year will bring a new record,” Landgraf said, adding that he anticipated “2022 will be the high watermark” that will “mark the peak of the Peak TV era. It will take a year and a half to see if I’m right.”
Landgraf forecasts the downturn to come with the fact that all the major new streaming services have already launched and that some previous scripted destinations — like USA Network, TNT and TBS — have closed up shop in the space.
“This year is actually inflated somewhat by the fact that last year was somewhat depressed and that had to do with the difficulty of completing production during the pandemic. That 16 percent surge in the first half is extraordinary given how many series premiered last year. Beyond that, I think all major streaming services have now launched,” Landgraf explained. “We’ve seen a notable set of additions of new streaming services join the party in the last couple years and that process is complete. I don’t see new major purveyors of programming entering the scene as they have been during the past decade or more. In fact, some prior purveyors of programming are exiting the scene. We’re at the point now where we’re not adding new suppliers and are now subtracting suppliers. I’m not expecting a precipitous drop. As you know from my prior failure — I don’t have a crystal ball — but since this year is going to be extraordinarily large, it may end up being the absolute peak.”
As for FX’s own roster, the so-called “Mayor of Television” said the back-half of 2022 would bring series including The Patient, Fleishman Is in Trouble and Dear Mama, with Shogun expected to come next year. Other updates include season five of Fargo starting production in the fall with showrunner Noah Hawley also delivering all of the scripts for his Alien update. The latter series will begin shooting next year.
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