The endless season: How the WGA Strike may forever change the TV biz


According to Gene DeWitt, President of DeWitt Media Strategies, introducing new shows one at a time throughout the year will be seen to be a much better strategy for programming, promotional and profit success. He writes:

“1. The Pilot ‘Season’ Will Become an Ongoing Year-Round Development Process

A compressed pilot season has jacked up the competition and prices for writers during a few months. Commissioning dozens of pilots simultaneously simply drives up the prices writers can charge. In addition, programming decisions are made quickly and sometimes badly.

Nevertheless, the networks will now undoubtedly engage in a panic of last minute development to try to salvage the season and set a proper stage for an upfront.

However, looking beyond this year, I think it is highly likely that the strike has convinced network managers that year-round pilot development would result in lower costs, better programs and improved ratings and profit.

2. Introduce New Programs throughout the Year

In rethinking ‘pilot season’, the networks will also want to reconsider the whole idea of a ‘broadcast year’.
The mid-September to mid-September ‘Broadcast Year’ originated with the desire of automobile companies to have primetime showcases for their new model introductions in the Fall.

This was never in the networks’ interests (and probably not that great for the auto companies) because all of the simultaneous and competing introductions of dozens of TV shows could only confuse viewers, reduce sampling of new shows and result in a high mortality rate for the new programs.

From an advertiser’s point of view, the broadcast calendar coincides with no one’s marketing plan or fiscal budget. From a network perspective, it cannot make sense to stage an annual face-off in which their most expensive and fragile products are burned off in one big electronic bonfire.

3. The Endless Season

So let’s look forward to an ‘endless season’ in which new TV programs are developed, introduced and promoted one at a time throughout the year. Will it work? Ask HBO.”