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Scripted TV Shows Dipped to a 5-Year Low During Strike-Impacted 2023, Study Shows

You weren’t imagining things – there really was a dearth of scripted television in 2023. Last year hit a five-year low for scripted content from the United States, according to a report released Friday from Ampere Analysis.

In 2023, 481 U.S. scripted series were released throughout the year. This is a drop of 152 shows compared to the previous two years. Both 2022 and 2021 released 633 U.S. scripted series each.

Though 2022 and 2021 saw record highs of released content, last year also fell below previous measurements. According to Ampere Analysis, 510 scripted U.S. shows were released in 2020, and 544 were released in 2019. It should be noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, production around the year 2020 was impacted.

Ampere Analysis also noted that there was a drop in scripted U.S. series that were ordered. Last year, 418 seasons of scripted U.S. series were ordered, compared to 661 ordered in 2022 and 673 ordered in 2021.

During 2023, streaming services released 77 fewer seasons, and broadcast television released 55 fewer seasons. Though the drop in broadcast can be largely blamed on the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, that’s not necessarily the case for streaming.

On the streaming and SVOD side, Netflix’s number of scripted U.S. seasons dropped from 107 in 2022 to 63 in 2023. Other major streamers also saw reductions including Peacock, which had 20 fewer titles in 2023; Hulu, which had 11 fewer titles; Max, which had nine fewer titles; and Paramount+, which had four fewer titles. One reason for this decline has to do with the rise of international productions, particularly on SVOD platforms.

“This drop began in the first half of the year, so cannot be blamed on strike action,” the report reads.

Looking ahead, the analytics firm expects that U.S. scripted series will continue to decrease for all major SVODs. But given that several broadcast and cable series that were originally scheduled for the fall of 2023 have been pushed into the winter and spring of 2024, it’s possible there will be a “temporary bounce,” similar to what happened in 2021 after the pandemic.

“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 markets, in terms of costs, fresh content, and potential subscriber growth, saw the U.S. scripted boom finally run out of steam,” Fred Black, the principal analyst at Ampere Analysis, said in the report. “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.”

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