HomeTvAccording to John Landgraf, Peak TV can turn it around by 30 percent
According to John Landgraf, Peak TV can turn it around by 30 percent
January 13, 2023
But it won’t save the hell out of linear television, the FX chief tells IndieWire.
At the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, we had our annual “Peak TV” presentation by Professor John Landgraf, FX Networks’ president of content and production. In 2022, TV (and streaming) produced a whopping 599 original scripted (English-language, adult) series – a new all-time high.
Landgraf believes the term “Peak TV,” which he coined years ago, has finally peaked. With fashionable cost-cutting (and therefore content-cutting), there’s nowhere to go but backwards. Still, as he openly admitted several times during Thursday morning’s TCA executive session, Landgraf has been wrong about “peak” in the past — a few times.
IndieWire caught up with Landgraf (and FX presidents of original shows Nick Grado and Gina Balian) over lunch to ask John how low consolidation TV — the term we think what just made it up – can you go?
Although Landgraf warned that he would be “throwing arrows” here, he stepped up to the toe line. As long as there are “five, six, seven or eight streaming services,” Landgraf began, he believes the turnaround could be “20 to 30 percent.”
Grad told us that agents are “seeing more passes and lack of command.” He added: “The rhythm is very far away at the moment.”
Let’s do some math. A 20 percent drop would bring “too much TV” back to the 480 series last seen around 2017. With a 30 percent reversal, the result would return to approximately 420 scripted programs, or roughly that ecosystem. was in 2015.
Landgraf wouldn’t dare guess how many years it would take to get back from 599 to 420. Knowing when to stop prognosticating is brilliant.
Jeremy Allen White as Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto on FX’s ‘The Bear’.
Photo by Matt Dinerstein
Such entitlement should not automatically translate into quality, Landgraf told IndieWire. “Bats aren’t as valuable when you’re making 600 television shows as an industry. The fewer bats you have, the more valuable they are,” he said. “And in theory, the higher the bar for what has become a really significant financial commitment to produce and market a scripted television show. So I think everyone is tightening their standards a little bit, however you define standards.”
That’s for his own house, though Landgraf said (and Balian was quick to agree), “I hope ours is already pretty high — it’s pretty hard to get a series here on FX.”
In an earlier executive session, Landgraf expressed some concern that the consolidation could disproportionately affect the industry’s recent (and overdue) diversity and integration. “In the country where we live, about 60 percent of the population identifies as white, and if you include Latinos as Caucasian, it’s probably closer to 70 percent, if you’re looking for the biggest meat of the audience… to make a show for white men because women they watch a lot more drama and comedy than men, so if you get a scripted show that appeals to men, that’s automatically a boost,” Landgraf said during a larger-scale Q&A. “You worry when the prospects narrow, who will lose an opportunity.”
According to Landgraf, the consolidation that won’t happen is the return of linear television, which is still (arguably) where FX mostly exists. (FX is a key brand on the Hulu streaming platform, which is majority owned by joint parent Disney.)
“I think linear has a role in the ecosystem,” he said. “Linear is obviously still huge, but in what sense is it huge? Well, local news, daytime talk shows, sports, right? The scripted programming that we do, I don’t think will come back in a linear format. I don’t think it will be the primary place of consumption. The younger audience voted and they voted that they wanted access to a streaming platform.”