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The logline on the 2018-2019 network TV development season: A glamorous business in the throes of transition grapples with unseen forces of disruption and the empire-building ambitions of its alpha-executive leaders.
The major studios ended upfront week with fewer orders for scripted series from Big Four networks and CW compared to the past few years: 34 this year compared to 37 at this point last year. So far, enthusiasm among ad buyers and industry-ites for the new shows has been fairly muted, with none of the newcomers showcased during the week’s parade of programming presentations generating heat a la NBC’s “This Is Us” in 2016 or CBS’ “Young Sheldon” last year.
Year - Reboots - Rescues - Ownership - Concerns
In a year of reboots, last-minute rescues and ownership concerns driving pickup and renewal decisions, it’s a tough time to be an independent studio. At the same time, co-production deals on shows that originated at other studios bolstered the rosters of vertically integrated players particularly CBS Television Studios and ABC Studios.
The focus on ownership has only intensified as broadcast network parent companies increasingly lean on worldwide content licensing deals rather than advertising sales in first-run telecasts to drive profits. To sell a show around the world, you have to own it, or least have a piece of the backend action.
Surprise - Sony - Pictures - TV - Lionsgate
Given this dynamic, it’s no surprise that Sony Pictures TV, Lionsgate TV, MGM, Entertainment One, and now even the long-dominant Warner Bros. TV are channeling more and more energy and resources to producing for the cable and streaming realm.
Sony Pictures Television came away with just one new series order, “Schooled,” the spinoff of “The Goldbergs” for ABC. Lionsgate fielded three pilots, but did not land an order (although there are rumblings that CBS drama pilot “L.A. Confidential” might relocate to CBS All Access). MGM’s “Cagney and Lacy” didn’t make the cut...
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