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Peak TV rediscovers the budget

hollywood-peak-tv-shows-thefutureparty
Peak TV // Illustration by Kate Walker

Peak TV rediscovers the budget

 

The Future. Kicked off by Netflix’s announcement that it would lose two million subscribers this quarter (and then made worse by inflation and threats of a recession), Hollywood is canceling shows en masse, cutting budgets and fees, and even leaving whole markets. As the entertainment industry contracts, both fewer creators and fewer types of shows may be given a shot at success… but it may mean that audiences can actually keep up with new releases.

Thrifty+
The era of Peak TV is coming to a close, reports Bloomberg.

  • Wall Street’s sudden pessimism about the streaming business model (after years of impossible growth predictions) has kicked down the stock price of nearly every studio and streamer.
  • That’s led to a massive drop in market capitalization, meaning a lot less money to spend on shows, while high-interest rates make it harder to borrow money for debt financing projects.
  • The cutbacks have also impacted shows that were viewed as no-brainers just a few months ago, including J.J. Abrams’ Demimonde at HBO Max and a series adaptation of Field of Dreams at Peacock.
  • HBO Max is also stopping making originals in several European countries, including the Nordic region and the Netherlands.

The spending freeze is a complete 180 from last year, which saw a record 559 scripted shows released. For reference, only 200 were made in 2013 when Netflix’s House of Cards came out. That’s more than anyone could reasonably get even close to watching, but it did prop up entertainment conglomerates’ stock prices and fuel everyone’s shift to streaming.

The cost of cutting
Not all savings are created equal. While top creators will still likely work plenty and blockbuster shows will command even greater budgets (streamers still plan on spending a lot), the cutbacks will most likely kneecap newer writers, directors, and producers — especially those that benefited from recent pushes for more shows from diverse creators. Peak TV developed a space for more of those stories to be told.

Additionally, whole genres may get short-shifted — creators are already sharing that American comedies are being axed because they don’t usually have the serialization and cliffhangers that make them bingeable.

A tough business may be about to get much tougher.

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