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Streaming services blast past networks for the most scripted TV shows in 2018

Hill House from the Netflix original series 'The Haunting of Hill House'

There is more television out there than ever, and streaming services are leading the charge. In its annual report, FX Networks reports that a staggering 495 original scripted TV series aired in 2018, with almost a third coming from streaming networks like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Apple.

That figure topped 2017’s total, which came in at 487 original scripted series, and set a brand new record for the number of scripted originals on the air. It’s not the only milestone in FX’s report, either. For the first time since FX started releasing these figures in 2014, streaming services aired more shows than basic cable or broadcast networks.

In 2018, streaming services produced 160 original scripted series, up from 117 the year before, making Netflix, Hulu, and the rest responsible for a 32 percent of all shows. By contrast, traditional networks aired 146 original scripted series, basic cable contributed 144, and premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime produced 45.

That’s a lot of TV, but it’s still short of FX’s original estimates. In 2017’s report, FX CEO John Landgraf predicted that 520 scripted originals would hit the airwaves and the internet in 2018.

According to FX, the amount of original scripted content on streaming services has increased by an incredible 385 percent since 2014. For other types of outlets, the numbers aren’t quite as rosy. The output from broadcast networks fell one percent in the same time frame, while the number of original cable series shrunk almost 23 percent from its 2016 peak.

Expect those trends to continue for the foreseeable future. As the Hollywood Reporter observes, cable outlets like TV Land and E! stopped producing scripted originals in 2018, joining channels like A&E and MTV in a move away from expensive scripted programming.

Meanwhile, the number of streaming services continues to rise, as does the number of series that they produce. In 2019, Disney plans to launch Disney+, a streaming service featuring shows based on Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, among other content. AT&T has announced plans for a three-tiered on-demand streamer that would feature, among other content, TV shows from Warner Bros. and HBO. Apple is making a big push into original scripted content, too, with a series based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, a team-up between former Alias collaborators Jennifer Garner and J.J. Abrams, among multiple other titles.

In other words, there’s quite a bit of TV coming in the next year or two, and the marketplace doesn’t show signs of slowing down, so make sure that you have the right streaming device and the best TV that you can afford. You’re going to need them.

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Chris Gates
Christopher Gates lives in Los Angeles, CA and writes about movies, TV, video games, and other pop culture curiosities. In…
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