Is TV’s Current Golden Age Doomed to Fail?

We totally disagree with this article, but we’re presenting it here anyway cuz…what if we’re wrong? (Hey, we’re in showbiz, where having core values is one of the things that’s really doomed.) Anyway:


by Gerry Smith

The entertainment industry will air more than 400 original TV shows this year, lavishing hundreds of millions of dollars on top talent and exotic locations in the hopes of creating the next “Mad Men” or “Game of Thrones.”

The gusher of quality programs has prompted TV critics to proclaim a Golden Age of Television. But as any viewer knows, keeping up with all the shows is impossible. You’d have to watch TV 24 hours a day for at least eight months to catch every scripted series that aired last year, according to a Bloomberg calculation. With too many shows chasing too few viewers, say industry executives, most original programs lose money and half the shows now running probably will disappear by next year.

“The market is flooded with too many people chasing the same prize,” said Jeff Wachtel, president of NBCUniversal’s cable unit, which includes the USA and Syfy channels. “What used to be the golden age of television has now become a gold rush.”

With production costs soaring and shows being canceled with increasing frequency, executives say many niche channels will vanish as networks with the most popular shows swallow rivals that fail to create enough hits of their own.

Of the 352 scripted series that aired last year, 199 — up sevenfold from 2000 — came from basic cable channels like AMC and from pay channels such as HBO. Another 129 ran on broadcast networks like CBS and NBC. And 24 came from streaming services such as Netflix Inc. and Inc.’s Prime.

Even E!, best known for “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” has a scripted show, “The Royals,” starring Elizabeth Hurley as the queen of England. The broadcast networks introduced a blizzard of series this month at the upfront presentation to advertisers. NBC’s lineup includes “Blindspot,” about a tattooed woman found naked in Times Square with no memory.

Dwindling Audiences

Programmers are pumping out ever more shows even as audiences dwindle. The number of coveted 18- to 49-year-old viewers watching cable TV live or on-demand within three days of a show airing has fallen 11 percent this season compared with the year before, according to researcher MoffettNathanson. One reason: viewers ditching pricey cable-TV packages for cheaper online alternatives such as Netflix or Hulu.

Read it all Bloomberg Business