BY THE NUMBERS
ALL DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED BY NETWORKS IN 2016
ALL DRAMA PILOTS & STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY YEARS
ALL ORDERS BY YEARS & BY NETWORKS DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED BY YEARS
As you can see, the overall number of pilots ordered for both dramas and comedies is on par with last year. ABC, NBC & CBS ordered less but that’s compensated with FOX, where they had to order more because of the ending of American Idol; and The CW, even though they don’t really need more, except if they want to schedule shows during the summer and launch more midseason newbies.
ALL DRAMA & COMEDY STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY NETWORKS & YEARS
The straight-to-series model is less popular this year, with only one or two at every network. It’s the result of multiple failures with such projects like Heroes Reborn, which was a flop, or the Coach sequel, whose order was cancelled. It’s way more popular at cable or streaming platforms (Netflix only works this way).
BY THE GENRES
There is only one real trend this year: the legal drama is back! The networks probably realized The Good Wife needed a successor, even before it was officially cancelled by CBS a few days ago. 7 legal pilots were ordered : 3 at ABC, 2 at NBC & 2 at CBS. We can expect at least 3 going to series.
Last year, every network was looking for the next great medical drama but among the pilots ordered few went to series. Now, Code Black disappoints at CBS, Chicago Med does good at NBC and Heartbeat has yet to premiere. Among the medical pilots ordered this year, two are based at CBS again: Bunker Hill & Sensory. The other one is for FOX : Zoobiquity. The detective genre is declining again with only 7 orders but most of the action/thriller pilots have a police element though. The most surprising and diversified slate goes to NBC with a sci-fi drama, a supernatural drama, a legal soap, a soap, a family drama, a medical and an action thriller.
COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED BY GENRES & BY NETWORKS COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED BY GENRES & BY YEARS
CBS has finally realized they have to focus on multicamera comedies and stop hoping for a success in the single-camera genre. On the contrary, ABC has only one multicamera project this year, probably because Last Man Standing & Dr Ken are doing OK. NBC has a mix of multicamera & single-cam. With The Carmichael Show and Superstore giving them hope for the future, they need to find the perfect companion shows for both of them, in their respective genre. FOX has no multicamera project. Hybrids are still a thing apparently. We’ll see if some them get a series order this time around…
BY THE STUDIOS
With networks ordering almost exclusively pilots produced in-house now, Warner Bros. Television & Sony Pictures Television have a harder time getting picks-up but hopefully they’re stronger than ever on the cable side. NBC is the only network that gives a better chance to outside-produced projects while ABC has pushed a lot to co-produce the projects not originally based in-house. For their first year in the running, TriStar has landed two co-productions: Model Woman (ABC) & Sensory (CBS).
BY THE GENDERS
It’s the first year that so many projects are centered around women. ABC is always the one ordering most of them but what changed is that CBS & FOX are now interested too. For the record, last year every single FOX drama pilot was male-led. Every single one! This season, 3 are female-led (and 4 comedies). Of course, a vast majority of orders went to duo & ensemble projects.
Yes, most of the projects are once again created by men but there’s an improvement, at least with FOX, CBS & The CW. Nothing really changes for ABC & NBC, who always did better. Please not the numbers for female and male directors are not yet available but we’re heading towards an improvement too.
- Everybody wants to be ABC!
Before this season’s bad results among the newbies, ABC was very strong on the 18/49 demo last year (and still is) and it inspired the other networks for their developments, especially CBS. Recently gone CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler even revealed to The Hollywood Reporter her dream was to work with Shonda Rhimes. The eye network is trying to be young and beautiful: more feminine, more demo-friendly and more serialized with their orders, despite Supergirl mixed results. The second version of legal drama pilot Doubt, this time with Katherine Heigl, comes from Grey’s Anatomy ex-writers Joan Rater & Tony Philan and could totally have ended up on ABC. The Nancy Drew new version CBS is preparing, with a diverse lead, also looks like a police procedural that ABC could have tried and it also comes from Joan Rater & Tony Philan! Can they get two series order? Summer show American Gothic is a mystery drama in the vein of How To Get Away With Murder, without the Shondaland expertise obviously (Read the preview).
At NBC, Miranda’s Rights totally looks like a legal version of Grey’s Anatomy (something ABC already tried by the way) from the title to the pitch. NBC has yet to premiere Heartbeat, yet another very Shondal-esque medical drama, years after Mercy.
At FOX, female-led dramas are very rare but this season they have multiples ones, among them: Recon from The Vampire Diaries‘ team that resembles Quantico since it’s about a rookie FBI agent who embeds herself in a suspected terrorist family.
Finally, while trying to figure out what’s the next step for comedies on network television, CBS, NBC & FOX bet heavily on family this year, following ABC’s tremendous success in this department. CBS has already tried to replicate Modern Family‘s success with Life In Pieces but the answer was not that good, despite a Big Bang Theory lead-in. Seems like it’s not that easy being ABC.
- No real Empire-effect (yet)
Despite a huge amount of soap projects developed after Empire became a surprise hit for FOX, networks were very shy in ordering any of them to pilot. In fact, only two got their tickets outside of ABC: musical soap Star… from Empire‘s Lee Daniels at FOX; and NBC’s Cruel Intentions sequel. ABC didn’t wait for Empire to develop and order soaps. They do every year. 2016 is no exception with Spark, Notorious, Model Woman, The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez and Still Star-Crossed from Shondaland.
The real Empire effect -but before Empire, ABC paved the way- concerns the casting part with many many shows betting on black or latino leads, especially at FOX. Just remember just 5 years ago, Scandal was the first drama lead by an african-american woman. You got Pitch about a black female pitcher; Shots Fired about a racially-charged murder; Lethal Weapon; APB; Zoobiquity & of course 24: Legacy, with Corey Hawkins playing the “new Jack Bauer”. ABC’s Presence from John Ridley is diverse too; as well as Archie Panjabi in The Jury; Daniel Sunjata in Notorious; and of course the “Eva Sofia Valdez”. CBS is, like always, the black sheep in this matter with only Nancy Drew as of now; plus Jermaine Fowler in Superior Donuts on the comedy side. It’s also through their comedies NBC shows a big push in diversity, after the relative success of Superstore with America Ferrera. They have Marlon, starring Marlon Wayans; Vanessa Hudgens leadind DC’s Powerless; White Sheep about an interracial couple; and mutlicamera comedies Vlad (dominican family) & Sebastian (italian family).
- Kevin Williamson never gives up
Despite Stalker‘s flop in 2014/2015, Kevin Williamson is back stronger than ever with three pick-ups through Warner Bros. Television: ABC’s Time After Time and The Untitled Paranormal Project for The CW, both written by him; and Recon at FOX as an executive producer. And one thing you should know: until now, there’s not a single pilot he wrote and/or produced that wasn’t ordered to series. Not all of them worked (remember Wasteland, Glory Days, Hidden Palms, The Secret Circle…) but it’s still an impressive track record!
- .Greg Berlanti is taking some time off (sort of)
Greg Berlanti, who started his career in Dawson and rised to the top through the years, is with Dick Wolf the buzziest producer out there with an incredible number of shows on the air: Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, The Mysteries of Laura & Blindspot. Last season, he was THE overarchiever of pilot season. This year, not so much. He only has Riverdale at The CW (a pilot script rejected by FOX in 2015) and that’s it! He developed several new projects though, for every network, but none were ordered to pilot. He just became a dad. Maybe it’s time to slow down a little.
COMING SOON: PILOT SEASON 2016 BY THE CITIES