TCA17: Quality Content Peaking at the Right Time

PASADENA, Calif. — The Television Critics Association press tour serves as a forum to discuss the best and brightest content on traditional television, but inevitably network executives also addressed the challenge of expanding distribution models as the industry continues to evolve.

With traditional cable networks expanding content distribution into TV Everywhere and stand-alone SVOD services as traditional cable bundles quickly shrink into smaller, “skinny” packages, executives speaking at the TCA Winter Tour (the cable portion kicked off late last week) said creating and distributing content poses greater challenges than in years past.

Get Complete Coverage of the 2017 TCA Winter Press Tour

Showtime Networks president and CEO David Nevins said that the success of its original programming has helped the network cut a swath through several distribution platforms, including the 2016 launch of the Showtime over-the-top service.

“The explosion of television choice has been, without a doubt, a great thing for Showtime,” Nevins said. “With our subscription model, our ever-increasing streaming audience and our strength of schedule, we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of all the trends that are buffeting the media business right now.”

Related: Everything Is 'Magical' for Showtime's 'Twin Peaks'

FX Networks president and CEO John Landgraf said new digital competitors would add to an already crowded marketplace. Apple Music’s proposed content push is another potential entry that could continue to add to last year’s record 454 scripted series offered on broadcast, cable and streaming outlets, per Landgraf, who expects the number of scripted series to peak this year or next.

“There’s extraordinary amounts of resources and capital in the Silicon Valley, and they’re beginning to flow through Netflix and Amazon and now others into the programming business, and that is creating an acceleration at the moment of this increase in programming,” Landgraf said. “You know, we welcome them as competitors.”

Related: FX Signs Donald Glover to Deal With FX Productions

Overall, executives say quality content is more valued than ever, and viewers are the ultimate winners in today’s programming feeding frenzy.

“There’s a lot of good that comes from the fragmentation, and, you know, we see new and diverse voices and young, talented people who would never have gotten an opportunity; they’re getting opportunities,” Landgraf said. “And great television is coming from that.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.