For the better part of two weeks, I have been attending the Television Critics Association summer tour. This is the opportunity every summer to see programming for the upcoming 2016-17 TV season.
The five networks will launch only 16 new programs in the fall, the lowest number in decades. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of new programming coming viewers’ way.
A major part of the conversation these last few days surrounds streaming services like Netflix, Crackle, Amazon Prime and Hulu. Their collective explosion has given viewers the largest number of original programs in the history of TV.
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In just three years of the company making original programs, Netflix has become a major player with productions like “Daredevil” and the upcoming “Luke Cage” that are based on Marvel Comics. The streaming service has had so much growth that it is now available in 190 countries, up from 60 last year.
Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, says there isn’t much history to judge what a global internet TV network looks like, but that’s what Netflix is becoming.
“Many of our original series, like ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Narcos,’ ‘Marvel’s Daredevil,’ ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones,’ are popular all over the world,” Sarandos says. “We’re continuing to expand the pace and breadth of original programming on Netflix, and we’re really pleased with the recognition those shows are getting.
“Seventeen of our original series, documentaries, films and comedy specials received 54 Emmy nominations this year, up from 34 last year. Netflix had the largest increase of Emmy nominations of all networks. Earlier this year nine of our original kids’ series received 32 daytime Emmy nominations, up from 18 the previous year.”
Netflix isn’t the only streaming service finding success. Amazon Prime has the Emmy-nominated comedy “Transparent” plus new comedies “One Mississippi” and “Fleabag.” The service is also building up its dramas with the return of “The Man in the High Castle” and the new legal drama “Goliath.”
At Hulu, senior vice president Craig Erwich points to its 70,000 hours of content, with more on the way.
“Our provocative comedies ‘Casual’ and ‘Difficult People’ continue to thrive in their second season. ‘Casual’ landed Hulu our first Golden Globe nomination,” Erwich says. “Season 2 of ‘Difficult People’ has 100 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
“On the dramatic front, ‘The Path’ with Hugh Dancy, Aaron Paul and Michelle Monaghan garnered incredible reviews and huge viewership. ‘The Path’ will return next year. But in the meantime, we have two riveting new dramas, ‘Shut Eye’ and ‘Chance.’ ”
While I have been in Los Angeles, some readers have left comments expressing how much they dislike me writing about this kind of television programming. It can be hard to watch – either on a computer screen or with one of the devices that brings the stream to a TV. I know it is tough on TV watchers to keep track as even some of the critics attending the tour are struggling to keep up with the explosion of options for viewing. (Amazon top boss Roy Price stresses that the goal is to make services more broadly available.)
But the truth is that the TV world is growing so quickly that keeping an eye on new venues for viewing is becoming increasingly important.