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FX Boss John Landgraf: 2023 Might Be the Year Peak TV Actually Peaks

The Mayor of Television has spoken. Again.
  • Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Photo: FX)
    Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Photo: FX)

    It wouldn't be a Television Critics Association Press Tour without John Landgraf issuing a proclamation on the state of Peak TV. The FX boss didn't disappoint Thursday during the network's 2023 Winter Press Tour presentation, declaring once and for all that 2023 will be the year that the total number of shows begins to decline, effectively bringing an end to the Peak TV era.

    As per tradition, Landgraf's team tallied every adult, scripted, English-language show released in 2022, with the total coming in at 599. The figure is a 7% increase over 2021 (during which he estimated 559 shows were released), but while over 350 of these shows were released in the first six months of the year, the pace slowed considerably from July to December.

    "In August I said it would be the 2020s you would find the market peak of scripted TV series, and that is still my bet," Landgraf told TCA members (per Variety and reporters in the room), though he noted "with humility" that he's been wrong about this prediction for the past two years. "I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 599 is the peak."

    The FX Networks chairman made a similar pronouncement in an interview with Vulture's Josef Adalian that went live just a few hours before his executive session. When asked about instances in which he prematurely foretold Peak TV's impending crest — as he did at the the TCA 2022 Summer Press Tour in August — Landgraf offered a hesitant prediction.

    "I tentatively suggested as such in the summer, knowing that I've been wrong a couple times before and I wasn't looking to be a three-time loser," he said. "And I would say now that I'm more convinced than I was in August that '23 will be the year when the peak happens on scripted."

    Landgraf went on to say that after years of unfettered spending, the TV industry is in the process of "com[ing] back down to some kind of equilibrium." He added, "I don't know what that equilibrium looks like. I wish I had a crystal ball. I'd be Warren Buffett. But I know it's happening now and it will proceed apace until a new structure is reached."

    "The idea that it's difficult and expensive to make a big movie or a really good television series — so you have to put real effort into it, and you have to try to make it good — I think that's good for the consumer. It's good for the artist. It's good for the distributor, and it's good for the studio," he said. "In the long run, that equilibrium, once reached, has a benefit to all participants in the system."

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: John Landgraf, FX, Peak TV, Television Critics Association 2023 Winter Press Tour