Ampere: Scripted Series Productions Took a Nosedive in 2023

With streamers Netflix, Peacock and Max finding viewership success with licensed re-runs of TV shows such as “Suits” and “Young Sheldon,” among others, original episodic content production has taken a hit.

New data from Ampere Analysis finds that a combination of last year’s Hollywood strikes and an economically-driven downturn in the original content boom saw scripted U.S. series releases fall to 481 in 2023 — down from 510 shows during the pandemic in 2020, and 633 series in 2021 and 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The production decline was underscored by the subscription streaming video platforms collectively releasing 77 fewer seasons, while legacy TV released 55 fewer seasons. While broadcast TV releases have been declining for years, last year’s decline was mostly due to the strikes, which delayed many new scripted seasons to a mid-season start in January and February this year.

On the flipside, Ampere contends that the potential for series pushed from truncated 2023/2024 seasons into the 2024/2025 seasons starting in the fall may produce a temporary bump in seasons released on broadcast in 2024.

Meanwhile, as Netflix turns, so does the SVOD and much of the entertainment ecosystem. Netflix saw original releases plummet from 107 series in 2022 to 68 in 2023 as the streamer transitioned to licensed content. The drop began in the first half of the year, so cannot be blamed entirely on the strikes, according to London-based Ampere.

Indeed, Peacock reduced original production releases by 20 titles, Hulu by 11, Max by 9, and Paramount+ by four. While Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+ maintained the number of series released in 2023, only Prime Video maintained the number of series it ordered.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

 

Among SVOD platforms, U.S. original series production is being supplanted by international content. Far more scripted TV releases are international already, but even after 2023’s cutbacks at the top eight SVODs, there were 202 new U.S. commissions (down from 342 in 2022), versus 295 international (down from 429).

Ampere believes that while the U.S. strikes are partly the cause for the drop in episodic content production, the bigger issue revolves around the fact that internationalization has removed Hollywood as the center for TV show production.

 

 

A combination of disruptive strike action, a tightening of purse strings at SVOD services, and the relative bang-for-your-buck offered by international production…saw the U.S. scripted boom finally run out of steam,” analyst Fred Black said in a statement. “While 2024 will see some level of a bounce back in the content being ordered, many of these titles will be released in 2025, meaning any recovery is likely to be slow going.”

Ampere: Discovery, Not Netflix, Top TV Show Commissioner in 2021

Discovery was the greatest global commissioner of TV shows in 2021, with a record-breaking 556 first-run TV titles commissioned in the year, according to new data from Ampere Analysis. This extends Discovery’s lead of 46 titles, recorded in 2020, to 153 titles by the end of 2021.

ViacomCBS outpaced Netflix for second place with 406 titles, compared with Netflix’s 403. Three other contenders, Disney, the BBC and Comcast/NBCUniversal ended last year with 387, 373 and 353 first-run episodic shows, respectively.

U.K.-based Ampere said the media companies upped their commission of TV shows in an effort to support proprietary subscription streaming VOD Video services. WarnerMedia also upped their commissions in 2021, but not enough to rank among the top six, according to Ampere.

“2022 will see further additions to these content slates, as the studio-backed VOD services continue to expand both their original catalogues and subscriber bases, both domestically and, increasingly, internationally,” Richard Cooper, research director at Ampere, said in a statement.

The research firm said that a key for 2022 will be those shows that are commissioned but not yet released, i.e., still in the in-production slate. Discovery’s typical commissions (largely documentaries) have a shorter production timescale and are lower cost and less high-profile than titles on Netflix’s predominant scripted slate.

Netflix is set to release most of its 243 in-production TV titles in 2022 (with an additional 106 movies), which will push the streamer’s overall slate of original releases to more than 2,000 titles.

The aforementioned figures for 2021 exclude the media companies’ growing SVOD movie slate. Combined, Netflix & Co. have commissioned 74 movie titles specifically for streaming. Indeed, adding Netflix’s 203 commissioned movies in 2021 would put the global streamer into first place for commissioned content.

Among all TV shows currently in production by media companies, most are earmarked for streaming. Around 58% of Disney originals are slated for distribution on Disney+. WarnerMedia follows with 48% of its original titles targeting HBO Max. Titles destined for VOD make up 39% of ViacomCBS’s (Paramount+) slate, and 28% of Comcast’s, i.e., Peacock.