Scripted series flood makes content supply chain management crucial

For those of you keeping track, the video content flood continues unabated with a record 495 scripted shows available to audiences in the U.S. in 2018. That’s up from 487 in 2017 and – more importantly – represents the first time there were more scripted series appearing on streaming outlets than on broadcast networks or basic cable.

FX Networks Research, in its annual Scripted Original Series report, said streamers had 160 original series online, compared to 146 for broadcasters and 144 on basic cable. (Pay cable added another 45 to the mix.)

Year-over-year (Y/Y) streaming content increased 37% and pay cable 7%. Broadcasters, on the other hand, saw a 5% decline Y/Y, while basic cable scripted series tumbled nearly 18% to their lowest level since it had 125 shows available in 2012.

Just to jog your memory, in 2011, there were SIX scripted shows available from streaming services. That increased 150% in 2012, 60% in 2013, 38% in 2014, 48% in 2015, 84% in 2016, 30% in 2017 and 37% in 2018. That’s a stunning 2,567% jump.

The overall increase in scripted shows isn’t anything to sneeze at, either. It’s increased 86%, since 2011, with broadcasting up 26%, premium cable up 36% and basic cable rising 30%. Basic cable peaked in 2015 at 186 shows and has been declining ever since, although 2018 really was a fire-sale year.

The conventional wisdom is that with Apple, Disney and AT&T’s Warner Media all planning new services for 2019 the number of scripted series will see a big bump, so 500 should come and go in a flash.

This next year will be a trying one, in many cases, for content distributors. The content supply chain already is expected to operate at blazing speeds – content doesn’t make money in production – and the push to expand to new markets quickly, to manage production flow, reduce labor costs and maximize ROI will gain even more importance as competition for eyeballs gets worse with additional players in the market.

Finding partners to oil that content supply chain and who understand how to manage distribution to multiple platforms will be increasingly important as we move deeper into this new age of video consumption.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn