I Thought Piracy Was Killing Entertainment? New Record In Scripted Shows In 2016

from the look-at-that dept

Remember how piracy was supposed to be killing the entertainment industry and no one would make anything any more? Of course, almost exactly five years ago, we showed this wasn’t true at all, and the actual output of creative content was way, way up. Obviously, some of that was “amateur” creations, but it was true of professional creative content as well. One area that we pointed out was that the internet had made it possible to create much more new content and release it in new ways — and that certainly has held true in the realm of scripted TV shows. A new report from FX Research shows that the amount of scripted TV shows has absolutely exploded over the past few years. Since just 2010 the number of scripted series available has more than doubled. That’s crazy (but also awesome):

Of course, it won’t surprise people to see that a bunch of the new shows are on online services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.). But it does seem noteworthy that all the other areas have been growing also — even broadcast TV, which is a very limited resource, has somehow figured out how to cram in a few more scripted shows.

And, of course, many people now consider this to be “the golden age of television” because there are so many amazing shows on TV. So it appears that — contrary to the whining that we’ve heard in the past about how all this new content creation would lead to more crappy content, it’s actually done the reverse — and pushed more scripted TV show creators to up their game, and to be even more creative and original. Of course, you’ll hear stuff about TV execs being “worried” about there being too much TV content, but that’s just them trying to suppress competition.

What’s most hilarious about all of this is that I remember in the early 2000s, when “unscripted” or so-called “reality TV” was everywhere, being told that it was because of piracy that scripted TV was “dying.” We were told that the big TV studios would no longer invest in scripted TV, because it just couldn’t make any money in the internet era — and at least “reality” TV often created a demand for live viewing. And yet, look at how things have changed. And look at how little “piracy” seems to actually be an issue.

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Comments on “I Thought Piracy Was Killing Entertainment? New Record In Scripted Shows In 2016”

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Ninja (profile) says:


And the whining persists for another five years when the figures on losses due to piracy reach quadrillions of dollars despite being nearly extinct due to external forces dragging the MAFIAA, kicking and screaming, to the future. Stay tuned!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well if the Limewire case is anything to go by were it not for piracy the music industry alone would be making more money per year than would otherwise exist, so clearly ‘record breaking billions’ are nothing but chump change compared to what they could be making.

Not to mention how much of the new stuff being created is being created outside of their control, which of course means it doesn’t count, and it’s a dire situation indeed, the very concept of creativity teetering on the bring of complete annihilation thanks to the scourge of piracy.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

“and at least “reality” TV often created a demand for live viewing.”

And that is why you can buy survivor on dvd…. Most reality shows are still just like every other TV show. Maybe there is a little more drive to watch it “live” but in reality I bet most people just recorded it and watched it when they wanted.

That is really what makes Netflix tv shows so awesome. They drop the show on the site and you watch it whenever and however you want. One episode a week? No problem. Beige watch the entire season in one sitting? That’s cool too.

There are a few regular shows I watch and I HATE the annoying trickle of one episode a week. Especially considering some are more one episode whenever we feel like airing it, and we don’t feel like releasing anything during the holidays……

Anonymous Coward says:

There may be an economic tightening of the budgets of those series in general and the additive costs may be smaller. Also, we are entering an era where the “special effects” are more important than the overall number of actors. It doesn’t change the fact that piracy has been and always will be a red herring economically.

Any economic hits taken are effectively a result of more transparency in pricing, lowered barriers to entry and less deficit spending to justify economic risk arguments. Essentially consumer time is now possible to saturate and has thus created competition on views instead of pseudo-monopoly on views. When possibility to watch media has increased a million times you can’t just look at competitors in timeslot to understand where eyeballs go.

Anonymous Coward says:

The ratings for television shows came out recently, and the #1 show was Big Bang Theory closely followed by NCIS. What was interesting though was that if you looked at the 18-49 demographic, both of those shows were lower, meaning that more than 13-16 million of the viewers of those shows were 50 or older. Only The Walking Dead had a large 18-49 demographic, and of course that’s not a network show.

Don’t the networks see the writing on the wall?

john says:

Torrents are helping TV shows

You never see TV shows going after users torrenting files. It makes sense for them not to. I understand about the issues surrounding movie premieres and music.

There are so many distractions these days that it’s hard to keep up with TV programs. There just isn’t enough time. Once you fall behind, that’s it. Bye, bye regular programming. If it wasn’t for torrents, the few shows I watch regularly and become a huge fan of (consequently "selling" them to others) – I would have given up on entirely.

I remember when this happened with ‘Breaking Bad‘. By the time it hit my radar, I was already a season and a half behind. I would have never watched the show if I wasn’t able to catch up. I caught up (binge) and as a result converted at least a dozen people into fans (all of whom despise watching videos on computers preferring TV/Cable).

‘Breaking Bad’ is just one of several examples.

Another interesting trend, related to this, is how a show may start with 5 million viewers and by the third season it’s at 10 million. I think torrenting (and the fanaticism it creates) helps add viewers to specific shows and even helps others survive in this ultra-competitive fight for user’s time. In the pre-modern age, the hope of every show was to maintain the viewers they had during the first season.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Except when you had fewer series doing more episodes, you’re dealing with a smaller pool of talent (the same actors, the same writers) dominating the market as opposed to many shorter series employing a wider range of talent. A single show with 100 episodes isn’t the same as 10 shows with 10 episodes. I’d rather have the 10 shows both as a viewer and as a business.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe the artificially extended seasons were a big part of the problem. Story arcs dragged out to tedious lengths, pointless cliffhangers, tired writing depending on cliches and tropes in order to reach a 22 episode limit. Now, we get higher quality productions because the budget only has to cover 10 episodes, we get actual story rather than filler and production teams don’t get burned out. They can also attract better talent because people are able to work on other projects easily between seasons.

Perhaps it’s because I’m English and so 6 episode series rather than 20-odd episode seasons were the norm for me growing up. But, if the compromise is that you get better quality productions that people want to watch while only getting half the episodes, I’m fine with that.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

But then you are back to discussing quality again.

The thing is if you take the work from the same group of writers, actors, etc over 1 year, they could put out 1 24 episode series or 3 3-8 episode series. Measuring by episode will get you closer (while still not perfect) to apples to apples comparison of how much is being invested into creative effort.

You also have issues like overhead involved with starting a new series vs continuing an existing one, etc but it would still be closer

Anonymous Coward says:

The numbers make little sense. Even back in the times of 3 networks only, there were generally 4 to 5 shows per night per network. Even allowing for football, movies, and soecials each one had at least 25 shows ongoing each year. That means 75 as a base line.

By 2010 Fox was well established and things like CW or whatever were coming along. Easy to get to 100 plus shows in 2010.

Now 181 current is curious, because it implies 7 or 8 network channels on basic cable. That does not seem to be supported unless you consider a number of non broadcast channels. That would not really be a fair way to figure things out, and would not allow a true comparison to anything in the past.

Anonymous Coward says:

We all know you’re an idiot, Masnick, but this one is just too comical to let slide.

Reality TV was big because it was a new-ish concept and people watched it.

Nothing to do with piracy.

With the decline in the popularity of said reality shows, as the concept passed the saturation point, naturally new shows had to replace them. Those shows were- Surprise! scripted. Wow, who could have possibly added 2+2 and gotten 4 there.

Nothing to do with piracy.

Seriously, you should really contemplate trying not to be a complete buffoon the rest of your life.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think you are making some bad assumptions. Just because there are more scripted shows now doesn’t mean that reality TV is on the decline. The opposite seems to be true, there are even more reality shows. About 750 in 2015 (at least according to VOX)

It was never big because it was new, it was and is big because it’s cheap and people will watch anything.

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