US network Fox has declared itself out of the pilots game.
Appearing at the net’s Television Critics Association tour presentation, the 21st Century Fox-owned broadcaster’s chairman, entertainment, Kevin Reilly unveiled a slide reading, ‘R.I.P. Fox “Pilot season”, 1986-2013’ and declared: “We are going to be bypassing pilot season.”
This not the first time a US broadcaster has sidestepped pilot season – NBC has done so before. However, there is now groundswell against the costly process, in which producers and channels spend millions creating single episodes only for just a few to be taken to series over a two-week period.
“The broadcast development system was built in different era with three networks and is highly inefficient. It is nothing short of a miracle talent can still produce anything of quality in that environment,” said Reilly yesterday.
This year, Fox will launch straight-season orders including Backstrom, Hieroglyph, Gracepoint and Batman spin-off Gotham, while CBS has had major success with the groundbreaking Under the Dome and is employing the same model with the upcoming Extant. NBC and ABC also have several shorter run non-pilot shows.
Reilly pointed to the “flexibility” of the cable drama production model, which allows for quick turnaround reshoots, as a strong alternative. He used Fox sister channel’s FX quick recasting of Sons of Anarchy as an example.
However, Fox will still shoot a number of pilots in the riskier comedy genre, Reilly added.
Shows set for a sophomore season this year at Fox include comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which won a pair of Golden Globe awards earlier this week, and critical drama success Sleepy Hollow. Zooey Deschanel vehicle New Girl and others will also likely return.