TCA 2018: Scripted Shows Up 5% This Year, Says Landgraf

Beverly Hills, Calif. — John Landgraf, FX Networks CEO, offered his unofficial state of the industry update at FX’s TCA summer press tour session Friday in Beverly Hills. Landgraf said there are 319 scripted shows so far this year, a 5% gain from this point last year. Basic cable is down 11%, Landgraf said, and broadcast is down 5%.

Streaming shows are up 46% at this point this year, and premium cable is up 42%.

Landgraf said the number of original shows in this peak TV era continues to climb, though he did note that some networks are “beginning to scale back their investment in scripted.”

Complete Coverage: 2018 TCA Summer Press Tour

“There’s a lot of continued profusion in content,” he said. “That worries me.”

He spoke of how difficult it is to surprise viewers with so many shows, and story lines, on TV, citing viewers’ “narrative exhaustion.”

Landgraf announced a slate of projects that includes Shogun, season four of Fargo, with Chris Rock, and Devs from Alex Garland. “I’ve never been more enthusiastic about our development slate,” he said.

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Rock signed on for Fargo because showrunner Noah Hawley “really wanted to work with Chris,” said Landgraf. “Chris got really excited and signed on right away.”

Landgraf spoke of FX’s efforts to be more diverse. He said white men represent 51% of FX directors, 33% of series regulars, and 48% of writers, compared to 17% white women.

Despite FX’s improved diversity, the network can do better, said Landgraf, especially in the executive producer ranks. “We still have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.