by Jennifer Bozell
Pilot season is here! Although it’s still early, the broadcast networks have started picking up projects, and some early trends are starting to emerge. If you’re pitching a show or writing a spec script to be shopped around this year, you’ll want to pay attention to what’s piquing buyers’ interest.
Reboots remain popular. With so many platforms for content and so many shows out there, the five broadcast networks are again looking to proven intellectual properties in an attempt to stand out. Among this year’s crop of reboots: “Cagney & Lacey,” “Murphy Brown” and “Magnum, P.I” at CBS, and “Charmed” and “Roswell” at the CW. ABC has “Greatest American Hero” and NBC has a “Bad Boys” spin off. Of all of these, however, only “Murphy Brown” has a lock to get on the air currently, with a 13 episode straight to series order.
The volume of projects ordered may be down. So far, the broadcast networks have green-lit 58 pilots. But many haven’t cancelled their current underperforming shows that don’t have back-nine episode pick up orders. Last year, this lack of early cancellations impacted volume, when a total of 73 dramas and comedies were picked up. So, it seems likely that the volume will be on par with last year, or it will be less.
Multi-camera comedies are back in vogue. ABC is prepping “Roseanne” and NBC is having success with “Will and Grace” – there’s that reboot trend again! CBS in particular has already ordered seven multi- cameras, and NBC is looking for more as well. As production costs continue to rise, networks like that this format is faster to produce than single camera comedies, not to mention cheaper. And if they’re a hit, they can be enormously profitable.
More trends will undoubtedly emerge as pilot season continues. If you’re pitching a TV project this season, best of luck!