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‘Terminal decline’ of SVoD commissions sees US scripted releases fall 24% in 2023

Netflix thriller The Night Agent

The number of US scripted series released last year plummeted 24% to 481, down from 633 in both 2021 and 2022, as the peak TV era came to an “abrupt end,” according to data from Ampere Analysis.

Unsurprisingly, the volume of scripted shows released in 2023 was impacted by Hollywood’s dual strike, which shuttered most production from May until November.

However, the London-based research firm said that even when putting the strikes aside, SVoD commissions are in “terminal decline.”

Overall, SVoD services released 257 new seasons in 2023, a drop of 23% from 334 in 2022. Within that, Netflix, which debuted titles including The Night Agent, The Diplomat and Beef in 2023, reduced its US releases to 68 in 2023 from 107 the prior year.

Several other major US streamers also reduced their output, including Peacock (-20), Hulu (-11), Max (-9) and Paramount+ (-4). Prime Video, Apple TV+ and Disney+’s remained steady in 2023, said Ampere.

Meanwhile, pay TV services released 161 new seasons in 2023, down 7% from 173 the prior year. Broadcasters released 55 fewer new seasons in 2023, although Ampere attributed the decline mainly to the fact the fall season was postponed by the strikes.

While the number of US series released in 2023 dropped sharply, the volume of shows ordered during the year fell even more noticeably.

By Ampere’s tally, US streamers, broadcasters and pay TV outlets ordered just 418 new seasons in 2023, down from 661 the previous year – a 38% drop. That’s compared with 673 in 2021, 637 in 2020 and 722 in 2019.

SVoDs were the primary driver of the decline, with the number of new commissions falling by a whopping 41% to 202 in 2023, compared with 342 the year before.

The reduction in US commissioning is not solely being driven by the push for profitability, said Ampere, but is part of a shift it dubbed “internationalisation and the displacement of Hollywood.”

In 2023, US-based streamers commissioned 295 series in international markets, versus 202 in the US, a difference of 46%. Labour unrest drove some of the disparity, but a broader shift is underway, said Ampere.

“The strikes are partly the cause but also conceal the broader story of internationalisation and the decentering of Hollywood as the core of the world’s TV industry,” it said.

Fred Black, principal analyst at Ampere Analysis, added: “A combination of disruptive strike action, a tightening of purse strings at SVoD services and the relative bang-for-your-buck offered by international production markets, in terms of costs, fresh content and potential subscriber growth, saw the US scripted boom finally run out of steam.

“While 2024 will see some level of a bounce-back in the content being ordered, many of these titles will be released in 2025, meaning any recovery is likely to be slow going.”

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