While casting phase has just started (slowly) and first shootings will begin in about a month, here’s the full 2015 Pilot Season in all its glory: BY THE NUMBERS. And the lessons we can learn from them.
Many many thanks to @_Piair for the charts (you should follow the guy, seriously!).
ALL ORDERS BY NETWORKS (2015) ALL ORDERS BY YEAR
In those troubled times when viewers have a tendency to part from them to go to cable and streaming services, networks order a little bit less than they used to. ABC & NBC are on par with the previous years, needing more new shows than CBS & The CW (because their schedule is already packed with most of their series renewed), while FOX is in great danger but only has 2 hours to fill every night, a lot of unscripted… and a thing for renewing shows that don’t deserve it, ratings wise (The Mindy Project, Glee, The Following… I’m especially looking at you). That being said, the numbers of shows ordered to pilot that won’t be ordered to series could be bigger than ever in the end: ABC don’t need that many new comedies, with very few spots available; and NBC won’t order as many comedies as they did last year if their learned their lesson well.
TOTAL OF COMEDY AND DRAMA ORDERS BY YEAR
PILOT ORDERS (2015) DIRECT-TO-SERIES ORDERS (BY YEAR)
Last year, FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly wanted to re-invent the way pilot season works… by cancelling it! It meant for him: ordering shows all along the year, using mostly the direct-to-series model, which was never very popular by the way, for obvious reasons. He hoped the other networks would follow. In the end, he was let go (or fired, you can call it the way you want) because of his very bad results. This year, very few direct-to-series have been ordered, except at NBC with shows like Telenovela (the only way to get Eva Longoria) and Jennifer Lopez-starrer Shades Of Blue. ABC didn’t order any after cancelling one last season, Members Only, more for production issues it seems.
DRAMA ORDERS BY YEAR DRAMA ORDERS BY GENRE
First, know it’s hard to put some of the pilots in only one genre because something like Rosewood for FOX is both a medical and a detective drama, but one genre prevails in general, and that’s the one that counts here. Also keep in mind that the “soap” part -especially on ABC- can appear in every category. For example, Kingmakers at ABC is a detective soap, the way How To Get Away With Murder is (or more of detective legal soap to be precise). And I guess that’s the beauty of shows nowadays. They can be whatever they want to be.
Maybe for the first time in years, detective dramas are not THE thing anymore. They’re still there, but less and less straigthforward. Even CBS is slowly going away from the genre to try new things with shows like Supergirl (even if, of course, she’s a detective). But mostly, they badly want a new legal drama before The Good Wife says her goodbyes and a medical one because Grey’s Anatomy is still the only one that survives. On the contrary, the “thriller” genre was never really a thing before Scandal or The Blacklist really put it on the map. We can talk about 24 or Prison Break, but they were on FOX. Other networks didn’t try that hard to find their own at the time. Maybe because thrillers were seen as targeting males first, and TV is more of a women thing you know… It is changing, partly because of the “soap” element I just mentioned earlier.
Supernatural shows always find a way in the orders, but rarely get the approval of the audience. It’s tough to attract widely with it, even more if it’s Sci-Fi. Family or couple dramas are extinct, but it’s not new. The recent end of Parenthood marks the end of an era… before the next big family drama comes in (I’m not talking about soapy ones like Empire, but the warming ones, based on emotions only). Finally, please note horror shows and biblical dramas have entered pilot race. We’ll see if they stick around.
COMEDY TYPES BY NETWORKS (2015) COMEDY TYPES BY YEAR
For the first time, ABC & CBS can’t decide whether they want some of their projects to be single-camera or multicamera and the difference is big in the writing process. Some of them are being converted one way or the other. The word is networks want to bet big on multicameras, a subgenre left mostly to CBS for years, when CBS is desperately trying to find at least one single-camera that works (after The Crazy Ones, Bad Teacher & We Are Men were tried two years ago). Finally, the hybrid subgenre -which only famous and successful example was How I Met Your Mother– is trying to find a way at FOX & NBC. What’s clear is single-cameras are losing ground year after year, especially because none of them worked at NBC for the past 5 years…
MAIN STUDIOS ORDERS BY YEAR
The three biggest studios have almost the same amount of pilots ordered, with ABC Studios & Universal Television leading the pack, and 20th Century FOX Television not far behind. Warner Bros. Television is down slightly. CBS Television Studios & Sony Pictures Television are on par with last years. Do remember most of them also provide for cable.
NETWORKS & OFF NETWORKS ORDERS (2015)
As always, 20th Century FOX Television is the studio that sells pilots to other networks the most, especially on the comedy side. Warner Bros. Television, which only possesses The CW with CBS, also have a good record this year. But what’s to be underlined is networks rely more and more on their own projects, the best way for them to make profits.
MEN VS. WOMEN CREATORS
This chart is pretty clear and only here to prove that once again women creators are very few on television and nothing changes year after year. It’s also true for women directors : only 7 pilots out of 40 have a woman at the helm (three of them going to the same woman : Pam Fryman). In the same way, the word “diversity” is everywhere in the casting process but things are much more different from the production perspective with white people mostly at every job…