Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The number of scripted TV shows that aired in 2016 is higher than ever before.

FX has issued its annual report on the (overwhelming) amount of scripted shows available to viewers, and as it has been for each of the past seven years, that number is higher than ever.

The cable channel’s research department says 455 scripted series aired this year, an increase of 8 percent over the 421 that aired in 2015. (The number for last year is itself an upward revision of FX’s initial estimate.)

peak-tv-2016-chart

The growth in 2016 is entirely attributable to online and streaming services, which doubled their output vs. 2015 (46 to 93) while the output from linear TV (broadcast and basic and pay cable) decreased slightly.

FX has tracked the percentage gains over the past five years at the top of the chart. If you go back to 2009 (the second bar on the chart), when there was just one streaming show on the air, the numbers are even more stark.

Since 2009, the number of broadcast shows has grown a modest 19 percent. That’s not much of a surprise — the broadcast networks have a set number of hours to fill each week. The growth has largely come in the form of plugging in new shows where reruns may have otherwise aired, plus some expansion of scripted shows in the summer. Pay cable has added 15 shows over that time, a growth of 71 percent.

The number of scripted series on ad-supported cable has mushroomed, growing from 66 in 2009 to 181 this year, a growth of 174 percent. That portion of the business has added the most total shows in that time, even more than streaming/online, which has gone from 1 to 93 over the past seven years. (That’s a ridiculous 9,200-percent growth, by the way.)

As FX’s fine print notes, that 455 number does not include daytime dramas, “recently produced imports,” shows aired in languages other than English or kids’ programming, all of which would likely push the number over 500.

Scripted programming is also only a fraction of the TV universe as a whole. Through November, more than 1,300 Nielsen-rated entertainment shows (i.e., not sports or news) had aired in 2016. The dizzying amount of programming available just keeps getting more dizzying.

 

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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