Analysis of what the networks need.
Under Greenblatt, the network is gravitating toward more daring programming to try to dig itself out of the ratings basement. "The mindset is, 'We don't have the luxury of launching middle-of-the-road shows; they're going to barely tune in to us to watch something out-of-the-box,' " says one agent, who notes that unique material, like J.J. Abrams' (already picked up) postapocalyptic thriller Revolution, might be one way to lure eyeballs.
"Daring" is obviously relative here. If they wanted to be really daring, they'd pick up The Frontier.
Multiple sources say ABC chief Paul Lee talks internally about defining the network's brand. "They're asking, 'Who are we?' And if we're the network that brings you Revenge and Grey's Anatomy, we have to dance with the ones that brought us."
And Once Upon a Time
, hello! But I get what he's saying. ABC = soaps. Mystery soaps, history soaps, fantasy soaps and soapy soaps. That's good news for 666 Park Ave,
the soapiest sounding of their fantasy pilots and not good news for Gotham
, which is a female version of Grimm
The Emmerich project about the rise of the antichrist has a hot guy in the lead, which is good for grabbing the female audience, but the antichrist is not the easiest concept to shoehorn into a soapy format, plus I'm pretty sure either Terry O'Quinn or Vanessa Williams is playing Satan, and it would be confusing to have two such shows on the same network.
The silence is deafening surrounding the male-skewing (former?) front-runner, The Last Resort.
Its fate probably hinges on how committed ABC is to brand purity at this point. The risk is
of becoming what some dismissively call "a glorified Lifetime." Among them: alienating male-focused advertisers as well as the syndication riches that come from more close-ended series.
ABC is going to be an interesting case study in how far you can take brand discipline. CBS' discipline is why it's such a success, but cop shows have cross-gender appeal. If ABC passes on The Last Resort
, it means they're really jumping into the deep end, and good for them for taking a big risk in such a risk-adverse industry.
In contrast to ABC, the CW is chasing guys. Well, they gotta do something because like NBC (and ABC, surprisingly enough), they're in deep doodoo.
New CW president Mark Pedowitz is actively seeking year-round programming, more repeatable material and broader-appeal projects...The Greg Berlanti-Marc Guggenheim comic-book drama Arrow has the potential to draw male viewers, as Smallville once did, while the mystery series Cult is poised to repeat better than the soapy Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl do.
This may mean curtains for The Selection
, which has a female lead and sounds highly serialized. (But guys like hot, ass-kicking girls and stories about fighting for power as opposed to than teen love triangles, so who knows.)
As for FOX
, looks like their three new dramas will be a cop/doctor/lawyer trifecta, impressively boring in its symmetry.
Why focus group testing pilots sucks.
As someone who has sat behind the one-way mirror, I can attest that focus groups are good at saying whether they like what you shove in front of their face, not so good at envisioning whether they will like where that thing might evolve.
And the way TV is now, even broadcast shows survive by appealing to more nichey audiences than in the past. Is your focus group that niche audience? Probably not, because the audience and the show find each other. There's no telling who "should" be in that focus group until the show airs, at which point, it's too late.
This idea would be fun, but it's a real can o' worms:
A network could put all of its pilots up on its website and let the entire populace of interested viewers vote for their favorites and leave comments on how they would like to see the show improved before it went to series.
That just gives a wider canvas to the problems he's already identified, such as the noisiest people getting the most attention, or those with agendas. Can you imagine the utter babble they would be bombarded with? There would be no making sense of the feedback.
And that's not even considering the PR debacle if people decide they like the pilots that were passed on better than the ones picked up, and start internet campaigns for them to be revived. And we all know they will. It might impact the ratings of the picked up shows as people reject them out of anger that their favorites weren't chosen instead.
Maybe the internet could be used under controlled circumstances to broaden the focus group sample, but it shouldn't be thrown open to the general public.
And if the Internet isn’t the way to go with this, maybe a network could program a new series called Pick the Lineup or, if it is on NBC, The Choice.
HEY! Stop stealing my idea!
Seriously, that could be fun, but it should be for that show, not as a substitute for the regular pilot selection process.