"You can get the same rating at a fraction of the price," according to ITV America CEO David George, a top supplier of unscripted content reported by The Hollywood Reporter in Why Scripted TV Shows Are Becoming Scarce on Basic Cable. Speaking to investors Jan. 29, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey announced that his company's own big [scripted] swings would be reserved for upcoming streamer HBO Max. His suite of legacy Turner networks (TNT, TBS, Tru), in turn, is set to become a more aggressive buyer in the unscripted space. USA, which has seen its scripted efforts more than halved since its "Blue Sky" heyday, launched pricey anthology Briarpatch out of The Sinner on Feb. 6. A steep audience decline in the second episode prompted the network to shift the series to the unorthodox 11 p.m. Monday time slot in hopes of luring more viewers from a WWE lead-in. Even middling triumphs are becoming hard to find. Apart from a few outliers — The Walking Dead's lingering, if diminished, thrall on AMC, Paramount breakout Yellowstone and History dramas such as Project Blue Book and Vikings — scripted is grossly underperforming on basic cable. ...Thank streamers for sucking up the oxygen in that room. This is not surprising. But the real question is just how long before there is a big reduction in the number of basic cable channels? Or are the corporations going to try to force streaming subscribers to pay for things they don't and won't watch just like they did on cable?