Off-script: The number of scripted shows fell in 2023, after rising for years

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Mixed signals

If you’re someone who has an overwhelmingly long list of TV shows that you’ve been told you “must watch”, you might take some relief from the latest FX report, which reveals that the number of new US-produced scripted original series actually fell 14% last year.

Across broadcast, cable, and streaming, there were 516 scripted shows made for adults in 2023 — the largest annual decrease in over 2 decades, and the lowest overall count since the pandemic.


A record 600 new scripted shows hit our screens in 2022, as the streaming wars raged on. But, while 2020 saw productions stall for months on end and countless media companies fold under the weight of an unprecedented hiatus, 2023 was similarly disrupted.

The almost 5-month-long Hollywood strikes caused filming delays and a marketing bottleneck, which not only led to a wave of high-profile TV cancellations across both networks and streamers, but hampered the creation of new content as writers took to the picket line.

Even so, strikes aren’t solely to blame for scripted TV’s decline. Platforms like Disney+, Netflix, and Apple have recently veered away from subscriber gains-at-all-costs and towards profitability, introducing cost-cutting measures and diversifying their content spending to acquire more local language originals and sports content.

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Off-script: The number of scripted shows fell in 2023, after rising for years
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