Coronavirus Shutdowns Will Delay Scripted TV Shows Up Through 2021

Overseas productions may be slowly restarting, but the majority of scripted TV shows across the globe will feel the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic well into 2021. A new report predicts that up to 60% of scripted titles around the world that were set to air later this year will likely be delayed to 2021 or later, while things look even more dire for shows that are still in the planning stages.

A new report from Ampere Analysis (via Deadline) predicts that it will take Hollywood and TV productions across the globe more than a year to bounce back from the effects of coronavirus delays. Up to 60% of scripted shows set to debut in 2020 will be delayed up to a year, while up to 10% of planned dramas and comedies likely to be scrapped entirely. However, there is a silver lining for reality show fans — unscripted programming is predicted to bounce back by the end of this year. So at least you have more trashy Netflix reality shows to look forward to.

Ampere Analysis senior analyst Fred Black said of the report:

There is one certainty among the current uncertainty – that the COVID-19 pandemic will change the TV production industry far beyond the end of the lockdown. Initially, we expect delays to cause gaps in scripted TV release schedules, which broadcasters and streaming players will have to fill with other content. However, as delayed productions begin to fill out content gaps in later months, these gaps will begin to close. But this has further ramifications. The knock-on effect of delayed releases is a likely depression of the number of new commissions for some time after the shutdown ends, as commissioners look to fill schedules with delayed projects they have already invested in before signing off new ones."

Ampere expects that broadcasters will release between 5-10% fewer new scripted titles on a monthly basis in the second half of 2020. And 5-10% more scripted shows expected to debut in the fall will be canceled entirely.

Delays were expected amid the coronavirus pandemic, even as overseas productions in New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and France start to slowly resume shooting. Health guidelines and restrictions will further impact future productions, and likely change the way the film and TV industry operates. But those industry-sweeping changes likely won't be clear until next year, when the well of new content dries up, and beyond.

Since the advent of streaming services, the past decade has seen an influx of original shows that have oversaturated the market in a phenomenon dubbed "Peak TV." Could these coronavirus delays result in the end of Peak TV as we know it? Could it weed out the many middling TV shows until we're only left with the hits? It's uncertain, though I have the sinking feeling that it may just result in another reality show boom, since unscripted shows are likely to bounce back faster. And it may also aid the rise of streaming content over network TV, as network shows struggle to compete with the readily available original titles on Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon.