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Basic cable is becoming emptier and emptier as a home to scripted shows

  • "It’s obvious that streamers like Netflix, and Amazon, and Apple are making new scripted shows, but where are the others, the traditional TV powerhouses?" says Lauren Theisen, pointing to the news this week that TBS and TNT are getting out of scripted programming. "Well, they’re on streaming, too. Disney, which owns channels like Freeform and FX, is putting all its instantly recognizable Marvel and Star Wars stuff onto its own streaming service. NBC, which owns several including USA and Syfy, is premiering their new shows on Peacock. And Paramount Media Networks, which owns everything from Comedy Central to BET to MTV, also has a streaming service that seems to get first dibs on all it creates. In short, even though we’re living through a ridiculous TV boom that saw the number of scripted series reach an all-time high in 2021, streaming platforms are the only place to watch them. Cable, for its part, is becoming an afterthought for everything but live events, even as streaming grows and grows into a beast whose insatiable hunger for content must be satisfied. Just check out what’s on cable tonight. It’s a graveyard of mediocre mostly forgotten movies and reruns of sitcoms that peaked during the Bush administration, again and again and again. Six hours of The Office on Comedy Central. Independence Day: Resurgence (I have no memory of this movie), Ford v Ferrari, and then Independence Day: Resurgence again are programmed around exactly one new episode of Atlanta on FX. It’s nothing but Two And A Half Men on, uh, The Independent Film Channel. It’s bleak out there, in short, and it only gets bleaker when you zoom out."