Is TV’s golden age ‘too big to fail’?

What? You didn’t know that we were in a Golden Age for TV? That’s silly! This, however, is quite serious. Yep:

too-much-of-a-good-thingby Chris Osterndorf

“Hey, have you seen this new show? Seriously, you have to watch it!” If this conversation doesn’t sound familiar to you, you probably haven’t gotten out much in the last few years. Then again, why would you, with such great TV to watch?

Last month, Cinemax premiered The Knick, a period drama set in a turn of the century hospital fromSteven “I don’t make films anymore” Soderbergh. Soderbergh brings an air of prestige to the project, which is his second high-profile TV effort following HBO‘s 2013 Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra. With Soderbergh and star Clive Owen onboard, The Knick is a conscious attempt on the part of Cinemax to make a name for itself as a prestige network, a la HBO (although technically, it isalready under the HBO tent). This doesn’t actually represent Cinemax’s first attempt to make a go of this, but if the good reviews for The Knick are any indication, it may be the most successful.

Meanwhile, another lesser premium network, Starz, is launching a new flagship show too, withOutlander. From Battlestar Galactica‘s Ronald D. Moore, this time-traveling literary adaptation seems to be generating some decent buzz, too.

But if paying attention to yet another pair of noteworthy series sounds exhausting to you, you’re not alone. More and more, it’s starting to feel like no matter how many great shows are out there, it’s impossible to watch them all.

Plenty of people in Hollywood are already expressing growing concern about the fragmented state of television. An event at the “Produced By” television conference from earlier this year brought together some of the biggest names in cable for a panel on the state of television, and it found FX CEO John Landgraf remarking, “I don’t know that people are aware of this, but if you think about it, for 50 years there were three broadcast networks… So there were probably at any given moment 60 or 70 scripted original series in America. When the fourth [network] came on, probably 80. Best count I have is there will be about 350 scripted original series produced and marketed in the American television market this year… And I think that 350 will probably push to 400 next year.”

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