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COVID Accelerates the Decline of the US TV Fall Season


Jack Thomas Manager

Production delays to new US scripted titles caused the 2020 Fall TV season to have the least debut titles premiering in years on US broadcast services, dramatically accelerating a steady decline in US content made for broadcasters

When production normalises post COVID these volumes are expected to recover in later Fall schedules but they are unlikely to make up the numbers lost over the previous years

Meanwhile SVOD services in the US, both Global and those limited to the US, had a far higher output in Fall 2020, with more new titles appearing exclusively on US SVOD in the past two fall seasons than on Broadcast in the same period

This huge push for growth, both from new players entering the market and established SVODs focusing on more original content, has minimised any drop in volume of new titles caused by COVID production delays between the 2019 and 2020 Fall seasons

With more studio-owned SVODs than ever in the US market, the decline in new content for US broadcasters in the Fall season is further exacerbated by studios opting to release content on their fledgling SVOD services exclusively, rather than on their linear channels

Even linear content is used to drive SVOD usage, whether its Disney branding its FX titles as ‘FX on Hulu’ or WarnerMedia putting all HBO linear content on HBO Max day of release

Netflix is leading the way for new SVOD premieres however, with the Global SVOD premiering more new titles in the year of 2020 than all other SVODs active in the US combined

The Fall schedule has long been a hallmark of US networks, promoted early and often to potential viewers as must-see content

But with less titles than ever debuting in this pivotal period in the US on linear and most of what comes to TV also available on VOD, a once much-coveted season for advertisers is beginning to rapidly lose its value

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