BY THE NUMBERS
ALL DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED IN 2017
ALL PILOTS & STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY YEARS
ALL DRAMA PILOTS ORDERED BY YEARS & BY NETWORKS
DRAMA & COMEDY PILOTS ORDERED BY YEARS
ALL DRAMA & COMEDY STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDERED BY NETWORKS & YEARS
While the era of so-called Peak TV is in full force, the Big Five have ordered less drama and comedy pilots than last year and the years before. They are 76 in 2017, they were 86 in 2016 and 95 in 2014 ! In the details, ABC is on par with last year (even though they have a very strong comedy brand and don’t need much more), as well as CBS & The CW. But NBC ordered way less, simply because they needed less with a schedule already full and the Olympics coming in 2018. They went from 13 comedy pilots in 2016 to only 8 this year. They still have a hard time creating their comedy brand but they finally have a few comedies to stick with (Superstore, The Good Place), plus the return of Will & Grace for a short season. In the meantime, FOX picked-up less drama pilots (with one now shooting off season and other one pushed), meaning they will probably ordered most of them to series if they want new things to launch next season. They have one straight-to-series order: Orville. Will the networks order less shows during the upfronts? Doesn’t seem likely, though the fact that failing series are rarely pulled off the air nowadays doesn’t leave much space for new things. As usual, some of them will be pushed to summer with a lesser chance to shine.
BY THE GENRES
In 2016, legal drama pilots were back, probably because The Good Wife was ending and the networks felt like there was a hole to fill in that department. It didn’t result in many orders though. During this year’s development season, both CBS & NBC bet heavily on legal projects but very few got the greenlight as you can see: only three, including Shondaland’s Black’s Law. Medical dramas are on par with 2016: The Good Doctor at ABC, Shelter at NBC, The Resident and The Beast at FOX. CBS doesn’t have one this year, while Code Black is in danger again and Pure Genius likely cancelled. Cop shows/Detective dramas are also on par, with CBS having less than usual and ABC having more than usual.
The action and thriller pilots have exploded and it’s partly due to this year’s crave for military shows in the Post-Trump era: For God & Country at NBC, Behind Enemy Lines at FOX, Navy SEAL at CBS & Valor at The CW. There are more fantasy & sci-fi pilots in 2017, which doesn’t really make sense since the time-travel shows launched this year all failed to various degrees. No time travel this time, no horror either, but virtual reality (Reverie at NBC), monsters (Searchers at The CW), mutants (Gifted at FOX), vampires (The Passage at FOX) and The Inhumans from Marvel at ABC.
As expected between the successes of Empire & This Is Us, drama soaps are back in the game but we can’t really talk about a trend yet. Maybe next year. The CW is rebooting Dynasty & is trying a family dramedy (Life Sentence); ABC asked Marc Cherry back with mystery soap Bluegrass/Blood Red; while NBC needs something to pair This Is Us with so Good Girls and Rise look like the perfect candidates.
COMEDY FORMATS BY NETWORKS
COMEDY FORMATS BY YEARS
CBS is still looking for a success in the single-camera comedy department and may have found one with Young Sheldon, a prequel spin-off of The Big Bang Theory. Most of the other pick-ups are for multicamera comedies except Real Life from How I Met Your Mother creators which is an hybrid. At NBC, there’s only one multicamera pilot (Relatively Happy) while they have straight-to-series new season of Will & Grace. Pairing them seems to be the best option… For the first time in years, ABC has 3 multicamera pilots, while Last Man Standing and Dr Ken don’t seem to be in immediate danger. Is the network aiming for an expansion on fridays? FOX is going full single-camera comedies, as they should.
BY THE GENDERS
It’s getting better! Male creators are still in vast majority but women writers got more pick-ups than usual, especially at The CW. FOX has also improved, while ABC & NBC are on par with previous years -they always did better than the others- and CBS is still the black sheep with only 3 pilots overall (two dramas, one comedy) written by females. Please not the numbers for female and male directors are not yet available but we’re heading towards a dramatic fall after a one-year rise.
In 2016, more pilots than usual were centered around women characters, except at FOX where there was not a single one; and at CBS which didn’t order the few they had in store to series, except Katherine Heigl’s Doubt. This year, there are slightly less female-led shows & also less ensemble shows. It means there are more male-lead shows, especially in the comedy department.
BY THE STUDIOS
With networks ordering almost exclusively pilots produced in-house now, Warner Bros. Television & Sony Pictures Television had a harder time getting pick-ups in 2016 but they were stronger than ever on the cable side. This year, Sony went more agressively and has doubled their pilot pick-ups while Warner Bros. has the exact same number. Every other studios are down since the overall number of pick-ups is down itself. ABC is the most generous network with 10 pilots from outside studios among the 24 ordered, while FOX only has one pilot not-produced in house among their 13!
Graphics by @_PIAIR