Warner Bros. TV Boss Channing Dungey Says Peak TV “Wasn’t Really Great For the Business”

Warner Bros. Television Group chairman and CEO Channing Dungey says the era of a 600-show universe wasn’t good for TV viewers.

“The truth of the matter is Peak TV wasn’t really great for the business when you have 600 shows being made,” Dungey told the Banff World Media Festival while giving a Summit Series keynote address. Her comments on Peak TV’s downslope came as the industry grapples with escalating content costs and an industry contraction.

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“I don’t mean to make light of the fact that as those numbers (600 shows) come down, you do have fewer people as jobs are harder to come by,” Dungey argued. But she added TV viewers couldn’t make sense of Peak TV amid its bounty.

“There’s no possible way that you can keep up with all of that, that you can see all of it and that lack of critical mass is frustrating and disappointing,” she told Banff delegates. The result is continuing belt-tightening in Hollywood.

“The business is contracting a little bit. There’s going to be fewer overall deals as a result of that, and I think prices are coming down, which is also probably interesting,” Dungey argued.

A Banff veteran, Dungey made an informal conversation appearance at the festival in 2021 soon after being named to head up the Warner Bros. TV group. And in 2018, Dungey was in Banff for a keynote address when serving as president of ABC Entertainment, which was followed by a short stint at Netflix as vp, original series.

At WBTV, Dungey runs a TV studio tethered to Max, a streaming platform, and within a Warner Bros. business now part of Warner Bros. Discovery. “For me, great stories are great stories,” she said as she and her team ideally field pitches not necessarily with a linear TV or streaming platform in mind from the outset.

She pointed to the upcoming Max medical procedural The Pitt From ER alums John Wells and R. Scott Gemmill, with each episode debuting weekly. “It will feel like old school broadcasts in streaming,” Dungey observed.

In all, she oversees TV production on almost 90 scripted, unscripted and animated series for streaming platforms, cable and broadcast networks. Dungey said Apple TV+ wants more Ted Lasso episodes, while adding: “Jason Sudeikis is open to the idea, but I think he wants to have the right idea, which I appreciate.”

Dungey also discounted the prospect of a Friends reboot. “I think it would very difficult to do another Friends and call it Friends,” not least by trying to find new versions of the series’ iconic characters. And while she’s not thumbs down to an updated The West Wing series, “I don’t know that this is the right time for that,” she said, given the current political climate in the U.S.

Her appearance in Banff came as Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to continue the rollout of Max in key international markets and bolster its creative pipeline across its film and TV studios.

“I see my roles the head of the group to hold an umbrella over our studio so that everyone underneath that umbrella can focus on that and not the distractions of the broader business,” Dungey argued.

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