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.

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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.”

Nielsen: Netflix Dominated Third-Party Licensed Content in 2021

Netflix spends billions of dollars annually creating original movies and TV shows around the world. The streamer has literally forced most distribution channels to enter the original content business, including ad-supported VOD, to remain competitive.

But Netflix also dominates the market for third-party network TV licensed shows, according to Nielsen. The data tracking service said that 13 of the top 15 third-party TV programs streamed on U.S. televisions in 2021 were licensed by Netflix.

From myriad seasons of “Criminal Minds,” “NCIS,” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Gilmore Girls” to “The Walking Dead” and “The Blacklist,” Netflix subs streamed more than 365 million combined hours of shows across more than 2,500 episodes.

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Notably absent from the 2021 list compared with 2020: “The Office,” which topped Nielsen and Netflix licensed charts with 57 million hours streamed. Last year, however, the program went to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform — a service Nielsen doesn’t track.

“The numbers are not nearly as big as they were in 2020, but Netflix still ran the table,” Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product strategy, said on a webcast.

Indeed, catalog episodes of “Seinfeld” ranked 14th on the Nielsen chart, which included three months availability on Netflix and nine on Hulu.

“The heir apparent to ‘The Office’ was ‘Seinfeld,’ which is still finding its [legs],” Fuhrer said.