FX boss John Landgraf is the executive everyone waits to hear at the Television Critics Association semi-annual press tour, having coined the term “peak TV” in 2015.
On Friday, however, he conceded that peak TV was still a long way from peaking.
So far this year, 319 scripted series have premiered on linear and streaming television, reports FX research. That’s up 5 percent compared to the same last year. Streaming services are offering 46 percent more scripted series, while premium cable is offering 42 percent more. Basic cable and broadcast are both down at 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
All of that is resulting in what writer/director Paul Schrader called in 2009 “narrative exhaustion.”
“Profusion of stories is very good if you want to talk about innovation and diversity,” said Landgraf. “But … it’s very hard if you’re talking about trying to surprise the audience and delight the audience.”
Still, Landgraf does not expect this frenzy of production to slow down anytime soon, especially with deals like Disney’s pending acquisition of Fox and AT&T’s recently concluded acquisition of Time Warner happening specifically to combat Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Apple, not to mention Netflix’s annual $8 billion programming budget.
Under Landgraf, FX has been an auteur-focused brand, working with such creators as Noah Hawley, Ryan Murphy, Donald Glover, Pamela Adlon and Louis CK. FX also has responded to calls from critics for more diversity both behind and in front of the camera. The network’s most recent research finds that more than half of directors working on FX shows are white men, coming in at 51 percent. Following that, 22 percent are white women, another 22 percent are non-white men and just 5 percent are non-white women.
The stats are slightly better for writers, with 48 percent white men, 21 percent white women, 17 percent non-white men and 14 percent non-white women.
FX made several programming announcements while on the TCA stage, including:
— Season four of Noah Hawley’s Fargo will return to the network, with this iteration starring Chris Rock, with whom Landgraf said Hawley specifically wanted to work.
— American Horror Story has been renewed through season 10, although creator Ryan Murphy has signed a huge production deal with Netflix. Star Sarah Paulson said at TCA that the upcoming season eight, a crossover between season one’s Murder House and season three’s Coven called Apocalypse, would feature the one-episode return of Jessica Lange. Lange won two Emmy Awards for her turns on the show. Paulson also will direct episode six of the season.
— FX has ordered a remake of limited series Shōgun, based on the book by James Clavell.
— Parks and Recreation and Making It’s Nick Offerman and Sonoy Mizuno will star in a new limited series from Alex Garland (Annihilation, Ex Machina) called Devs.