Broadcast Networks Brace for Big Decline in Pilot Orders

Variety | 2/7/2019 | Joe Otterson
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This year’s broadcast pilot season is shaping up to be one of the leanest in recent memory as far as sheer numbers are concerned.

Among ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC, 50 pilots have been ordered so far for the 2019-20 season. That number also includes two straight-to-series orders at Fox and one at NBC. According to multiple sources, each of the networks is nearly done with its pilot orders for the season. Should the current pace of orders continue, that would put the total number of projects ordered this year in the low- to mid-60s. Compared with the 76 pilots ordered in 2018, this year will more than likely be down 10%-20% from last; that would mark the fewest number of pilot orders going back at least 7 years.

Agency - Sources - Decrease - Volume - Shift

According to several agency sources, the decrease in volume is partly due to a shift in strategy by the broadcast networks, which are looking to be more targeted in deploying their resources to counter the deep pockets of cable and streaming platforms like Netflix.

CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl told Variety that allocating money for development and pilot orders is always top of mind but cautioned that CBS had not yet decided exactly how many pilots to order.

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“We take the responsibility very seriously of how we use our resources, and we don’t make pilots just for the sake of making them,” Kahl said. “We want to essentially guarantee that it’s worth making and might have a chance of getting on our air. But the actual number hasn’t been determined yet.”

Sources - Networks - Agencies - Projects - Year

According to sources, the networks had told agencies that they would be looking to develop fewer projects this year compared with years past. And rather than invest substantial capital...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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