Flying blind into the upfronts?

May 9, 2008

drone.jpgOne thing you can bank on next week is that the TV networks won’t be showing off dazzling pilots of new shows at the upfronts, as we highlighted in a preview.

Executives have made no secret of the fact that pilots are costly, and, it seems, not all that useful. Already, NBC previewed their season with little more than a few very, very short clips. CBS, ABC and Fox aren’t expected to offer a whole lot more.

So what do advertising buyers think of this brave new world without pilots? Are they and their clients comfortable shelling out big bucks without seeing a full episode of a new comedy or drama.

Here’s what several had to say on the subject:

Aaron Cohen, Director of Broadcast at Horizon Media:

It worries me, but it’s similar to when replacements are made for programs that aren’t working.

It hasn’t been for a while that you’ve been able to lay down a schedule and say ‘This is what I’m buying and it’s going to be there for four quarters.’ You know you want to reach this particular demographic and you know they have an affinity to watch these forms of programming more than others. That’s what you’re looking for.

Stacey Shepatin, Senior Vice President, Director of National Broadcast at Hill Holliday:

It always makes you feel better when you can see the full pilot. The goal will be to be able to see a full episode to make sure that it is appropriate for our brands, there are no content issues and the storyline fits with what our consumers are looking for. So that will all come into play when we look at what shows to purchase.

You’re not going to just run blindly into something, you’re going to want to see what the production quality is, what the storylines are, all of that.

Donna Wolfe, Chief Negotiations Officer at Universal McCann:

The interesting thing is for years we were able to view new pilots. but the failure rate for new shows was extremely high. On average, 70 percent of the new shows fail. All the testing that the networks do, and all the pilots, it doesn’t necessarily spell success.

But I think we have to be comfortable that the content will be appropriate for our clients. It’s in their best interest and the network’s.

(Photo: Reuters) 

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For all of you following bubble shows….

Media Predict is forecasting strong odds for Reaper to survive, as well as Boston Legal.

How I Met Your Mother and The Unit don’t look so strong, but still likely for a renewal.

Other projections are at evision

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