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IHS Markit: scripted TV production declined in US last year

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Scripted TV production in the US – excluding online content – declined in 2016, largely due to lower origination by the cable networks, according to IHS Markit.

The research firm’s white paper ‘Boom or Bubble? The Rise of Scripted Programming’ claims that US broadcast and cable networks aired 2,323 hours of original drama and comedy in 2016, down from 2,511 hours in 2014.

It also said that seven out of nine US cable groups reduced original scripted output between 2014 and 2016 – with HBO and AMC Networks the only two networks to increase their output.

By contrast, online platforms led by Netflix and Amazon almost tripled their output of original scripted programming last year, with 515 new first-run hours of content in 2016.

“The stock of scripted programming is high, with a flood of new investment from online platforms, telcos and others supporting an enduring boom in production,” said Tim Westcott, research director, channels and programming at IHS Markit.

“Original drama and comedy series serve a variety of needs, aggregating audiences for free-to-air channels, reinforcing the subscriber proposition of pay channels, and driving the adoption of new subscription video-on-demand services.

“The fall-off in production of originals we’ve observed in US cable and Germany shows that in some markets, the supply of drama is starting to outstrip demand. It also shows that TV schedulers have other genres of appealing programming that they can call on, such as scripted reality, entertainment formats or comedy gameshows. These are often both cheaper and less risky than drama in particular.”

The research found that the UK increased its scripted output with 1,233 hours in 2016, but said there was a decline in Germany. Volumes in France and Australia were almost unchanged.

Overall the research covered the US and five other major territories – France, Germany, the UK, Australia and Canada.