The boom time is over
The number of US series productions is collapsing

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For many years, one US series production has followed another, and the offerings on streaming services are enormous. Now reports confirm what the industry has known for a long time: the boom is over. The reason for the decline in production is not just the strike in Hollywood.

The American series boom is actually coming to an end. In the course of 2023, 481 scripted series were published in the USA, according to a study by the London-based media analysis company Ampere. In 2022 there were still 633 US series at the peak. That's a decrease of 24 percent. This was reported by industry services such as “The Hollywood Reporter” and “Variety”.

The number of series in 2023 is therefore even lower than that of the difficult Corona crisis year 2020, due, among other things, to oversaturation of the market and the months-long strikes by screenwriters and actors. The annual count by television researchers from FX Research (from the Disney Group) is not yet available. It had totaled 599 seasons (instead of 633) of new and continued series on streaming, cable and broadcast networks in the United States in 2022. The number of so-called original scripted series had more than doubled in around ten years.

Screenplay professor Timo Gößler from the Babelsberg Film University in Potsdam said: “The end of the great series boom was only a matter of time – what's important now is what's left of it.” And he wasn't all that pessimistic, emphasized the series expert and author (“The German Room: The US Writers' Room in German series development”).

“Streaming war” and overproduction

“The greater variety of genres and narrative approaches, more unconventional characters, bolder material or new perspectives – all of this was only made possible by the series boom,” emphasized Gößler. The global audience has become accustomed to this in recent years. “My hope is that in the now more competitive market – despite fewer experiments and mass – quality, complexity and relevance will prevail. In other words, everything that the new generation of series stands for.”

For years in the United States there was talk of the booming years of television, which influenced the global market. According to FX Research, 288 series were released in 2012, only 15 of which were on the then new streaming services. The rise of streaming providers really started in 2013 – for example with the Netflix hit “House of Cards”.

Since the emergence of Amazon's Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Paramount+ and other providers, US media experts have even talked about a “streaming war” and often about overproduction. FX boss John Landgraf, who coined the term “Peak TV” that is common in the USA for the series boom a few years ago (roughly: peak television), then predicted a major turnaround in the series hype a good year ago. The golden age of streaming is fading. And that was before the months-long Hollywood strikes among authors and actresses.

Change in strategy for streaming services

The combination of the strikes and a move away from content overdose is seen as the reason for the now apparent crash in scripted series. The experts at Ampere cite a change in strategy by streaming services as the main cause of the decline. Last year, the SVoD services (subscription video on demand; German: video call subscription services) released 77 fewer seasons, and the long-serving TV channels in the USA released 55 seasons less.

Productions that were stalled by the strikes in 2023, including, for example, the fifth and final season of the Netflix global hit “Stranger Things,” are now being filmed with a delay and are coming out later than planned. However, this will not lead to a major catch-up boom. Overall, Netflix, for example, has significantly reduced its publications: from 107 in 2022 to 68 in 2023.

The decline began in the first half of 2023 and is not solely due to the strikes, say the analysts at Ampere. All in all, they see a shift in the global television market: decentralization, a “displacement of Hollywood” and general internationalization.

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