John Landgraf: One-on-One
The FX boss on the buying market now, prestige TV's ceiling, and if he would encourage his sons to go into TV: ‘I don’t know that I would’
Happy Monday, Series Business readers — and welcome to the hundreds of new subscribers to this newsletter after our analysis of the TV jobs landscape last week. We’ve got a strong lineup today: My Q&A with the Mayor of TV, FX head John Landgraf, plus my new colleague, London correspondent Manori Ravindran, delivers her dispatch on MIPTV.
On stage at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena on Friday, Landgraf told a room full of reporters that Peak TV — a phrase he coined in 2015 — has indeed peaked, sliding 14 percent to 516 scripted series in 2023 from 600 in 2022, by FX’s count.
In a candid 1:1 chat after his exec session, Landgraf went deeper on FX’s unique position and the challenges of the broader market. He got real about:
How slow pitching and development is now, and why
The ceiling on U.S. demand for premium TV storytelling
Which FX shows get 90 percent of their viewership on Hulu
“Retrograde motion” in a “scaling down” TV industry
Why FX’s Shogun won’t be a “two-screen show”
His appetite for risk at the moment
Why he wouldn’t advise his Gen Z sons to go into TV
Here’s our back-and-forth, lightly condensed and edited for clarity:
Elaine Low: I'm hearing that pitching has been a little slow to pick up after the strikes and the holidays. What are you and your team seeing?
John Landgraf: We definitely hear pitches, and we buy things on the open market.