Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon now produce a third of all scripted TV programs, as the number on broadcast and cable goes down. Ever since Netflix first started to carve out a place in the pop culture discussion with original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black in 2013, many have been predicting the imminent downfall of cable TV. While it still looks like that's a considerable ways off from happening, it can't be denied that the stranglehold traditional linear TV used to have on at-home viewing continues to loosen each year.
Every year, more and more people cancel cable, and more and more people sign up for a new streaming service or two. While the current explosion in the amount of services available may eventually lead to a point where consumers have to start making hard choices about which to support, for now, streaming is the preferred way to view TV shows for millions and millions of people around the world.
With the sheer amount of streaming services available - not to mention the coming arrivals of Disney Plus and an AT&T-owned service - a vital component to attracting subscribers is producing original programming. The number of scripted TV shows is at its highest level ever in 2018, and according to a FX Networks research study (reported by Variety), streaming now claims approximately 32 percent of those series. Of a whopping 495 scripted TV shows produced in 2018, streaming originals accounted for 160, up sharply from the 117 produced last year.
The biggest player in the streaming game is still of course Netflix, despite their recent house-cleaning of Marvel shows Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, and final season of House of Cards. Stranger Things remains a juggernaut, and season 3 will likely be one of the biggest TV events of 2019. Hulu and Amazon are doing their best to catch up though, and are winning awards more and more often for shows like The Handmaid's Tale and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Services like DC Universe, and the aforementioned Disney Plus also have their own exhaustive slates of originals planned, which should only further increase the percentage of scripted shows controlled by streaming companies.
Tellingly, the amount of scripted programs produced by broadcast and basic cable TV continues to drop. The big five broadcast networks produced 146 shows in 2018, down from 2017's 153. Basic cable took an even bigger hit, quantity-wise, producing 144 shows instead of last year's 175. For those wondering where the remainder of 2018's produced shows come from, 45 scripted series were released by premium cable networks, including HBO, Showtime, and Starz. Considering that all three of those companies also operate streaming platforms that don't require a cable subscription, one could argue they should also be counted among the streaming originals, which would increase the streaming share to a massive 205. For better or worse though, the industry still considers them cable channels.