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'Peak' scripted TV madness: when will it stop? 454 shows in 2016!

This was posted on Thursday, January 12, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

FX did its latest count of scripted programming and "peak TV" has not peaked - yet. In 2016, a whopping 454 scripted programs aired on various networks, up from an estimated 420 in 2015 and 389 in 2014.

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told TV writers at the Television Critics Association bi-annual shindig the number may go up even more this year or next but it will eventually start dropping.

“I had said when I first labeled Peak TV that it would come [last] year," he said. "I was obviously wrong. I’m now suggesting that there will be more series in 2017 than 2016, but I will go out on limb and stick to my prediction that 2017 or 2018 would be peak.”

Landgraf credited “extraordinary amount of capital flowing from Silicon Valley into companies like Netflix and Amazon that created the acceleration in increasing programming.”

At least 30 of those 454 scripted shows have shot in Atlanta over the past year, the most ever here in a given calendar year. Among the newcomers the past year include Netflix's "Stranger Things," FX's "Atlanta" and OWN's "Greenleaf." Soon, Fox's "24: Legacy" and BET's 'The Yard" will be debuting.

Networks as small as Atlanta-based Bounce TV ("Saints and Sinners") and the Sundance Channel ("Rectify") now do scripted shows.

Landgraf said FX, which has had its share of successful scripted dramas and comedies in recent years, thinks long term when picking shows: “Our criteria for picking up a show is suggesting, will two people, sitting at lunch 20 years from now, be having a conversation about this show? Can it be a show that survives and has enduring value?”

He doesn't track unscripted programming, which is generally cheaper to produce and is in far greater abundance.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.