peak-tv-scripted-growthHere’s why you can never seem to find time to watch all the great shows you keep hearing about: In 2015 alone, there were more than 400 of them.

The chart below, courtesy of FX Networks Research, shows the explosion of scripted series on TV over the past few years. The number of scripted shows on broadcast, cable and streaming nearly doubled between 2009 and 2015, going from 211 to 409 this year.


“This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform — broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming — led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services, says Julie Piepenkotter, head of research at FX Networks. “This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago.”

The greatest growth has come, not surprisingly, in streaming. Just two long-form scripted shows aired online in 2009, whereas this year there are 44 — a 22-fold increase. Basic cable added the greatest number of shows in that time, growing from 66 in 2009 to 181 in 2015. Broadcast networks have steadily added shows as well in an effort to cut down on the number of repeats they air.

That doesn’t even count reality shows, daytime dramas, kids’ programming or one-off specials or movies. There are typically 2,500 or more separately rated telecasts on cable (including repeats) in a single day, so the choices are basically endless.

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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