The End of Peak TV “Could Be a Good Thing,” Says Sony International TV Boss Wayne Garvie

The end of “peak TV” — the never-ending expansion in the number of drama series being produced worldwide — could be a good thing, according to Wayne Garvie, President of International Production at Sony Pictures Television (SPT).

Speaking at a keynote at TV festival Series Mania on Wednesday, Garvie noted that despite the sharp decline in commissions for scripted TV in the U.S., “more drama is being commissioned now than most times in human history” and argued that in the boom times, “a lot of stuff that got made that people didn’t get to see (or) didn’t know it was happening.”

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The new, post-peak era Garvie described as going “back to the future,” with producers doing more shows with traditional free-to-air broadcasters that they sell to channels worldwide. He highlighted the Sony’s new period drama Dope Girls, starring Mare of Easttown‘s Julianne Nicholson, Eliza Scanlen (Sharp Objects), Umi Myers (Bob Marley: One Love), and Geraldine James (Silo) in a story of female empowerment set against the Soho nightclub scene in London post-WWI. Produced by Sony-owned Bad Wolf, Dope Girls was commissioned by BBC One and is being shopped by SPT internationally.

“I think the future is obviously going to be more about collaboration and co-production,” said Garvie, noting that two of SPT’s signature international series —Netflix hits The Crown and Sex Education —are coming to the end of their run. “So we obviously have to reflect on what’s the next turn of the screw, what does it look like? What’s the change in the broader market? [We’re] doing a lot with the BBC, with ITV with Paramount/Five in the U.K. at the moment. And what we’re finding is there is a price point that kind of works, [for us]. And then there’s other shows with a higher price point that you will probably sell for all rights to a streaming service.”

Sony is also doing streaming collaborations like its deal for upcoming Australian miniseries The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a sweeping love story starring Jacob Elordi and Odessa Young, which just recently wrapped production. Produced by Amazon, SPT and Curio Pictures, the show will go out on the streamer in Australia/New Zealand and Canada, with SPT selling the rest of the world.

“It illustrates the change in the market,” said Garvie.

Garvie made a few polite jabs at Sony’s indie competition, the likes of Banijay and Fremantle, who have been actively gobbling up international production companies in an buying spree over the past few years.

“I don’t see their end game,” he said, noting that Sony is focusing on making very few acquisitions —it’s last big buy was acquiring Bad Wolf in 2021 — that can “sit alongside” its already-impressive portfolio of high-end boutique production subsidiaries.

“We’re not interested in rapidly doing anything. It has to be something special,” said Garvie. “We’re Sony. We have brilliant parents in Tokyo that take the long-term view…We are not looking to spin off [an acquired company] because we have some private equity payday in the few years.”

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