NOTE FROM LB: Once upon a time, my life was changed by a book called The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth in which a judge uttered a very important line of dialog. “You’ll get the best justice you can afford!”
Now, one year shy of 60 years later, I’m thinking about these two short sentences written by Libby Hill about not justice but television. “The average Joe doesn’t care about The Morning Show. They already have all the TV they need – and can afford.”
Ah, high culture, wherefore art thou, high culture?
Peak TV Is Only a Concern in the Gated Community of Hollywood
by Libby Hill
Let’s just cut to the chase. Yes, there’s too much television. Not only is there too much television, but there’s been too much television for quite some time. Not only has there been too much television for quite some time, but there is more television on the way, whether you like it or not.
But here’s the thing: Outside of Los Angeles and New York, very few people care. As passionate as I feel about HBO’s “Succession” and as much as it seems as though the entire world is obsessed with it, but the show’s spectacular Season 2 finale had just 1.1 million viewers between first run showings, encores and digital platforms. Or, approximately, the whole of the entertainment industry. That’s it.
There’s a disconnect between those inside the TV industry and the rest of the world. Look at Netflix’s earnings report this week: The company is still reeling after upping its price to $12.99 a month earlier this year. Analysts once anticipated people subscribing to “three or four” streaming services; that now seems horribly naive.
While it feels like Disney and Apple joining the streaming lineup are game-changers – or backbreakers, depending on how much TV you need to watch professionally – the reality is that your Kroger cashier doesn’t care, because her cable got too expensive and now she exclusively watches Netflix and that’s it for the forseeable future.
The TV industry needs to get out of this gated community. It’s been more than four years since Chairman of FX Network and FX Productions John Landgraf bemoaned this very concept. In 2015, the executive coined the now infamous phrase “Peak TV” and predicted that the market would see its peak that year or the next. Months later, an FX study revealed that television had boasted a record 409 scripted series.
Last year? There were 495. Honestly, maybe that’s enough television for now….