No More Upfronts?Complications Ensue
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Partly as fallout from the strike, NBC says it is ditching the September-to-May television season and going to an "endless season" where they put shows on when they're ready.

If the other networks follow suit, it means no more lavish "upfront" presentations of next year's shows to advertisers. It means no staffing season as such. Most importantly, it means no pilot season. Instead of every production company in town scrambling to grab the A list directors and cast for their pilots, they can cast and hire who's available now; and a couple of months later, if that pilot hasn't been picked up, another production company will have those guys available for their pilot.

It also means that shows will be coming on the air at different times of the year. Right now all the new shows come on in the Fall, and compete for viewers while they're finding their feet. In an "endless season," there will only be a few shows on at the same time, which means it's easier for viewers to check them out.

All of this is good news for the medium. The only people I can think of whom it does not benefit are B listers who previously got work because no one else was available during pilot crunch...

UPDATE: However, the other nets will continue with upfronts.

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I really like the idea of an open season. Seems like a no brainer, but, of course, it isn't.
Seems pretty healthy for the medium, however, and it's been a concept that's been working swell for the film industry.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:25 AM  

Thanks to TiVo, Pay-per-View, mpegs online, DVDs and so forth, sounds viable. I would hate to be viewer before all those innovations and an "open season," though. No time to plan vacations and such.

Not being in the industry, I wouldn't know, but it also sounds like it could somewhat be a recipe for burnout, too. . .especially if network TV shows become "open season," all year 'round without any time off. . ..

By Blogger The_Lex, at 5:12 PM  

@ the_lex

This doesn't mean that shows run their seasons throughout the year. Shows will still be on during their normal runs, but some shows will air their season during different times of the year. For example, Prison Break may be on during Spring-Summer while 24 is on fall-winter.

I doubt the networks will stretch 23 episodes of each show throughout the year, since this is stupid on a variety of levels. For example, two episodes a month? Forget about it. DVD sales? Who has time to watch a season over again when the next season premieres two weeks after the season finale?
Stretching a season throughout the year also fracks up the 'groove' of production. Big time.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 AM  

And what NBC is doing is making sure its sales staff is talking to advertisers throughout the year, letting them know the opportunities...

A big change from the upfronts and "buy now" attitude from past years.

By Blogger Cunningham, at 11:28 AM  

The flaw to my complaint is that I'm assuming that all the material shown on NBC will be good and worthwhile to watch. ;b

By Blogger The_Lex, at 11:48 AM  

No surprise the other are not following suit. In the short run, there is a whole financial system built around the upfronts. However, if NBC can score better ratings and better programming by having access to the whole calender, and being able to give each show the time and attention it needs to be ready, the others will follow along. They may also be able to steal back some of the viewers the cable networks have won by programming their original programming during dead spots in the network programming.

By Blogger Balphagor, at 10:16 PM  

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