The number of scripted original TV shows released on broadcast, cable and streaming dropped slightly from 532 in 2019 to 493 in 2020 according to FX Networks, which has been tracking the number for the past 10 years. FX chairman John Landgraf previously dubbed the spiraling number of scripted originals “Peak TV.” Back in 2009 there were 210 scripted originals, according to FX.
The reduction in 2020 is likely a temporary pause due to the effects of Covid shutting down productions and shifting network strategies. That’s because the streaming industry, where the majority of Peak TV originals has come from, is continuing to expand aggressively, in both subscription and ad-supported.
For example, deep-pocketed incumbent media companies like NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia only entered the streaming space in the past year, with Peacock and HBO Max, respectively. The companies announced in the past two weeks that Peacock has 33 million account sign-ups and HBO Max has 37.7 million subscribers. Then there’s Disney+, which only launched in November, 2019 is already up to nearly 87 million subscribers. All are benefiting from Covid, which has accelerated streaming’s growth.
As Netflix established long ago, high quality, must see original content is critical to fueling subscriptions. It’s a formula that’s been followed by streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ and contributed to Peak TV. But whereas a lot of Peak TV monetization has been fueled by subscriptions, advertising is now also being used effectively to support originals.
Hulu, CBS All Access (to be folded into Paramount+ in early March) and Peacock all offer hybrid advertising/subscription models, while YouTube is still advertising only. HBO Max will offer an ad-supported tier in 2021. And Roku acquired Quibi’s high quality original content which will be monetized sole with ads in The Roku Channel.
AVOD services are benefiting from high ad rates driven by consumption on connected TVs, which offer better targeting and ROI than linear TV. According to research from Conviva last week, 75% of global streaming time in Q4 ’20 occurred on CTVs. Recent research from Tubi also showed that 80% of its viewers can no longer be reached by advertising on the top 25 cable networks. All of this means linear TV ad spending will continue moving to ad-supported streaming, in turn driving demand for scripted originals.