2021 Television Report Illuminates Impact of COVID-19 on Recent Series Production

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FilmLA 2021 Television Research Report

In the second quarter of 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic brought scripted television production (along with production of other forms of filmed entertainment) to a halt. At the time, FilmLA estimated that approximately 198 U.S. produced, English-language series were either shut down or unable to commence production between mid-March and mid-June of that year.

Industry observers then watched as the seasonal rhythms of series production, subject to disruption from the streaming boom and now a global pandemic, remained thoroughly upended over the next fifteen months.

Today, a new report from our research team, the FilmLA 2021 Television Report, provides a high-level snapshot of how COVID-19 related impacts to production affected broadcast, cable and streaming network lineups in 2021 and the production centers where filming occurs.

For the 2021 Television Report, FilmLA researched the filming locations of the English-language, scripted television shows of U.S. origin that were available for viewing between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 (the “2021 cycle”). The report covers the number of television series that aired and breaks them down by filming locations for the three types of distribution platforms – broadcast, cable and streaming.

With 331 scripted series tracked by FilmLA in the 2021 cycle, far fewer television projects were in production this year than in any of the six years prior. The report also reveals that for the second consecutive year, streaming networks outstripped other distribution methods in terms of their share of total series in production.

In terms of total project capture, FilmLA’s new report reveals that California remains the most prolific of the major production centers tracked by FilmLA, hosting 97 projects in the 2021 cycle. This occurred even though California saw a 39 percent drop in series production, compared to one year prior.

Other production centers that captured a large share of series activity in the 2021 cycle included British Columbia and the states of New York and Georgia. An analysis of how the top ten jurisdictions fared year-over-year appears in the full report.

The report also includes an analysis, prepared with the aid of the California Film Commission, of television series qualifying for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program.

FilmLA’s 2021 Television Report is the latest and final installment of a decade-long longitudinal study of the number of television series available for viewing across broadcast, cable and (later) streaming platforms. Beginning in 2022, the series will be retired in favor of a new scripted content report, which in more comprehensive fashion, will examine where scripted film and television projects of U.S. origin are made.

Download the full report below and get immediate access to future reports by subscribing to FilmLA’s Research Updates.

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