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Coronavirus pandemic could delay 60% of scripted TV shows to 2021

Published May 19th, 2020 5:31PM EDT
TV shows delayed by coronavirus
Image: Disney

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  • TV show productions around the world were forced to stop due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A new report predicts that 60% of the shows that were scheduled to air in the second half of 2020 will now be delayed to 2021, and 10% will be canceled outright.
  • Unscripted reality shows will recover much more quickly than scripted programming.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, television has been a necessary escape as we keep our distance from one another in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Movies have been releasing days, weeks, and even months ahead of schedule, and shows that have made their debuts over the past few months — most notably Netflix’s Tiger King and ESPN‘s The Last Dance — have become viral sensations.

Broadcast and streaming TV has helped to keep us sane as we lock ourselves indoors, but with production on pause across the industry, it won’t be long before the content that networks and streaming services have accumulated starts to dry up. Citing data from Ampere Analysis, Deadline reports that up to 60% of the scripted titles that were scheduled to air before the end of the year will be delayed, and 10% will be canceled outright.

According to the report, unscripted programming should recover later in the year, but scripted TV will feel the effects of the shutdown well into 2021. Ampere predicts that 5-10% fewer scripted titles will be released on a monthly basis than originally expected, and that more than half of the shows that would have launched in the second half of 2020 have the potential to be delayed. Plus, another 5-10% of the scripted shows that were in production will never be finished at all, and those projects will never see the light of day due to the shutdown.

“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,” said Ampere senior analyst Fred Black. “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.”

As Black explains, even if productions are able to resume in the near future, networks and streaming services will be looking to clear out the backlog before they start looking for new projects. As a result, even when the industry ramps back up, it could be many months before the pipeline begins to flow smoothly again.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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