Here’s How Much TV Premiered This Year — And Why We Might Be At ‘Peak Peak TV’

FX president John Landgraf popularized the term “peak TV” and has made various predictions on when we might see a true peak.
Hector Roqueta Rivero via Getty Images

If at any point over the last few years, you’ve felt like there’s too much TV to keep up with, you’re right.

In 2015, FX president John Landgraf popularized the term “peak TV” to describe the explosion of new TV shows, fueled by the growth of new cable networks, and later, a profusion of streaming platforms.

The network has tracked the ever-growing number of scripted shows each year, and 2022 has already set new records. From January to June, there were a staggering 357 scripted shows on broadcast, cable and streaming, making it highly likely 2022 will surpass the 559 total shows in 2021, Landgraf told reporters Tuesday at a Television Critics Association panel.

“My original prediction that we would see some maximum in 2018 or ’19 was obviously way, way off,” he said. “This year, we’ve seen a tidal wave of scripted programming, thanks to the bottleneck of COVID-delayed production finally clearing up.”

He went on to “foolishly make another prediction, which is that 2022 will be the high watermark, in other words, that it will mark the peak of the peak TV era,” citing pandemic production delays and a potential plateau in the development of new streaming services.

FX president John Landgraf at the 2020 Winter TCA Tour in January.
FX president John Landgraf at the 2020 Winter TCA Tour in January.
Amy Sussman via Getty Images

Later, Landgraf elaborated that the number of shows may dip slightly — but not precipitously — in future years. One reason is he suspects this year’s TV output is “inflated somewhat” compared to recent years, since many networks had a backlog of shows that they were finally able to release this year.

In addition, he thinks “all the major streaming services have now launched.” So there might not be as many new platforms in the near future, slowing the need for seemingly endless streams of new content.

“I think we’ve seen a notable set of additions of new streaming services join the party in the last couple of years, and I think that process is complete. So in other words, I don’t see new, major purveyors of programming, entering the scene as they have been continuously over the past decade or more — and in fact, there are some prior purveyors of television programming that are kind of exiting the scene,” he said. “You’re at the point now where you’re not really adding new suppliers, but you are, to some extent, subtracting suppliers.”

He noted that it will take at least a year and a half to see if we’ve actually reached a peak.

“As you know, from my prior failure, I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t predict the future,” he said. “But it’s just my guess that since this year is going to be extraordinarily large, it’ll end up maybe being the absolute peak.”

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