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US at 'peak TV'

News, 11 August 2015

LOS ANGELES: There is "too much television" in the US according to a leading industry figure who has also suggested that the variety of viewing options available to consumers means the current advertising model is broken.

John Landgraf, CEO of FX Network, a cable and satellite channel owned by 21st Century Fox, told the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in Los Angeles, reported by Advertising Week, that the number of original scripted shows had almost doubled in the last six years.

There were 211 such shows in 2009, rising to 371 in 2014, he said, a figure that includes those available on streaming services, but excludes non-English language and children's programming. "We believe 2015 will easily blow through the 400 mark," he added.

"My sense is that 2015 or 2016 will represent peak TV in America, and that we'll begin to see declines coming the year after that and beyond," Landgraf stated.

In part this is simply because of the challenges involved in creating compelling original content and in recruiting appropriate talent.

Another factor is the difficulty in breaking through the clutter of broadcast, cable and streaming services now available and Landgraf foresaw "a new frontier that will be defined by [TV] brands" acting as filters for an overwhelmed viewing public.

"Brands make consumers' lives easier," he said. "They are signposts that point to their favorite choices."

One consequence of that will be that some smaller independent channels are unlikely to survive.

"Programmers without a defined brand identity and the scale to support that brand with great and plentiful programming and marketing are going to have a huge struggle as time goes on," Landgraf declared.

He also argued that the current advertising model needed to be reinvented, as audience measurement figures were failing to take account of huge numbers of viewers.

In support of this view he cited the experience of one of his own channel's series. American Horror Story: Freak Show had 7m viewers in the standard live-plus-three-days measurement metric, but that figure jumped 80% to 12.6m when measured over 60 days to take account of DVR viewing, VOD and streaming.

Data sourced from Advertising Week; additional content by Warc staff