Netflix chief: There are too many 'mediocre' shows
The latest volley in the Peak TV Debate (a.k.a. “Are networks making too many shows?”) has Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos declaring the problem isn’t the quantity of shows but rather the quality — namely, that traditional networks in particular are grinding out too much “mediocre” content.
“I’ve been reading a lot of your coverage about Peak TV, and I have to agree — there are too many mediocre, safe shows on linear television,” Sarandos told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Wednesday. “But at a time when the industry bemoans the glut of scripted series that fail to have an impact, we’ve been able to give fans of multiple genres, of multiple ages, what they want …Our goal is to keep the bar high and keep them coming.”
After the panel, the executive was asked to elaborate on his “mediocre” charge.
“I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘There’s too much of a good thing’ — that’s not a real phenomenon,” he says. “So I think if you’re keeping the shows great and people are loving them, why make less? It seems like an arbitrary notion that there should only be X-number of shows on TV.”
The Peak TV phenomenon was popularized by FX CEO John Landgraf, who last year famously noted that there are 409 original scripted dramas and comedies on the air — far too many to be viewed or garner sufficient consideration by an increasingly distracted and fragmented audience. “There is too much competition,” Landgraf said. “It is hard to find good shows … and I believe it’s impossible to maintain quality control.”
But Sarandos dismisses that notion. “I think when people talk about Peak TV they’re talking about it through an old media lens,” he says. “Which is where there’s three hours of prime-time, there are four broadcast networks and X-number of cable channels. That’s not true anymore. The viewer has total control of when they watch shows. In that world, the possibilities are almost infinite in the way people can passionately connect.”
Pressed as to whose shows, in particular, are mediocre, the executive conceded, “we’ve got a few too — not intentionally.”
Netflix also announced premiere dates for nine shows, as well as made some renewals. But there’s no renewal yet for summer breakout Stranger Things (“we’re letting the show breathe,” Sarandos said).