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FX Networks CEO John Landgraf: 'There is simply too much television'

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf: 'There is simply too much television'
CEO John Landgraf (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

FX Networks chief John Landgraf confirmed something our TVs, DVRs, computers and mobile devices have already made clear: "There is simply too much television."

Landgraf opened the network's day of sessions at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills with statements on the rapidly increasing number of original scripted series. According to FX research, there were upward of 371 scripted series in 2014. The best current estimates for 2015, Landgraf added, will "easily blow through 400 series."

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The executive said he expects 2015 and 2016 to be "peak TV in America" but predicts we'll begin to see declines beyond that.

The saturation is ushering in the need for brand-building, Landgraf said, at a time when viewers might be consuming network shows after-the-fact on streaming services.

That might be a slightly less daunting task for established linear networks such as FX, HBO or AMC, but smaller networks might struggle in their efforts, Landgraff said.

"I don't think that independent channels are going to fare particularly well in the future," he said.

He added: "It's the nature of every industry that you see proliferation, then consolidation." He described it as "a culling of the herd."

The mounting concerns about consumer viewing habits has been a paramount topic as of late. Declining pay-TV subscriptions caused havoc on Wall Street this week as investors unloaded shares of media stocks in the wake of an earnings call by Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger in which he noted the affect of cord-cutting on the company's brands.

"There was nothing that Bob Iger said in his call that I haven't seen coming and haven't been planning for many years," Landgraf said.

But Landgraf did acknowledge changes must come as viewing habits continue to shift away from linear TV to on demand platforms.

"It's going to be a messy, inelegant process and there are going to be weeks like this week where Wall Sreet radically overreacts to a piece of information."

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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