Peak TV continues to climb, with a 7% jump in series in 2017, says FX’s Landgraf

John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions, addresses the audience during the Fox/FX portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Assn. Press Tour in Pasadena.
(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Scripted-show production in the era of so-called peak TV peaked again in 2017, according to the numbers compiled by FX Networks.

FX President John Landgraf presented his annual count of scripted programs Friday to the Television Critics Assn., which showed the total number of series was up 7% in 2017 to 487.

The growth continued to be driven by streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, which have invested heavily in original programming to attract subscribers. In 2010 there were only four series being streamed by FX’s count. In 2016, the total was 90 and in 2017 it was up to 117.

Compared with 2010, when streaming services were still in their nascent stage, the total is up nearly 70%.


Scripted shows on the broadcast networks grew to 153 in 2017, up from 146 a year earlier. Premium cable’s total grew from 36 to 42. Basic ad-supported cable declined from 183 to 175.

With such a crowded marketplace for scripted programming, Landgraf said he understands why the Walt Disney Co. chose to buy FX along with the rest of the 21st Century Fox’s movie and production assets for $52.4 billion. Disney aims to bulk up its programming assets to better compete with the likes of Netflix and other technology platforms that are looking to distribute entertainment content and upending the traditional TV and movie businesses.

“As the largely unregulated internet platforms look to become world-swallowing trillion-dollar companies, Hollywood with its quaintly old-fashioned focus on storytelling has no choice than to seek the scale necessary to compete,” Landgraf said.

As for the future of FX — the home of adult-oriented shows such as “American Horror Story,” “The Americans,” “Feud” and “Better Things” — Landgraf appeared confident that Disney wants the company as part of its effort to offer a wide array of programming through its own direct-to-consumer streaming service down the road.


“One of the reasons they are getting bigger is they want to compete against streaming services worldwide,” Landgraf said.

Landgraf does not yet know how FX — which has three cable networks and a production studio — will fit into the Disney empire once the acquisition is completed. But based on a conversation with Disney Chairman Bob Iger since the asset deal was announced, Landgraf believes Disney will want to preserve FX’s positioning as provider of edgy programming.

“Disney under Bob Iger’s leadership has been a very good steward of brands it has bought,” Landgraf said, citing Pixar and Marvel. “He seems to have really wanted FX to be part of the larger plan and feels like we do something that is unique.”


Twitter: @SteveBattaglio