With WGA-AMPTP negotiations at a standstill, the impact is now extending to the 2008-09 season, beginning with the Q1 pilot season where networks fund single episode ideas for potential series. According to an AP story, it’s a process that may have had its day, say two execs at a major network, speaking off-record.
Pilots are more expensive than ever to produce, reaching 6 million or more for complex action dramas. This year’s results were unimpressive, with a number of anticipated new series — ranging from NBC’s "Bionic Woman" to ABC’s "Cavemen" — failing to get the ratings.
Instead, networks are considering taking pitches straight to series, especially when a show comes from road-tested producers. A prolonged strike would force the issue, pushing broadcasters up against the fall season production deadline.
"The strike is forcing us to look at the way we all do business and to make choices that were tough when business was as usual," said NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker. "This is allowing us to make the tougher choices."
We’ve already discussed how the strike is making the next upfront look more and more like just a series of meetings, rather than the usual pomp and circumstance: (12/13/07 TVBR #242).