Runaway production and new broadcasting strategies have really cut into one of the backbones of Los Angeles’ TV industry, a new report out today from FilmL.A. says. For the first time since records have been kept, the home of Hollywood’s share of total pilot production has fallen below 50% according to the nonprofit local-permitting organization. In fact, with a 6% drop from 2012/2013, the total share for 2013/2014 is 44%. The closest things have gotten to that bad before was in 2010/2011 when the share was 51%. “Overall, Los Angeles retained only 90 projects (19 one-hour dramas and 71 half-hour comedies) out of 203 tracked during the ‘13/’14 development cycle.” bluntly notes FilmL.A. “Needless to say, it is a very far cry from L.A.’s record 82 percent share in ‘06/’07,” adds the 2014 Television Pilot Production Report (read it here). The report also notes that this is the first time that NYC has topped L.A. in terms of being the No. #1 location for 1-hour TV drama pilots with 24 such projects in the Big Apple compared to 19 in the City of Angels.
This report comes one day before the California state Senate is set to hold its first hearings on legislation to expand the Golden State’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program. While no dollar figure has yet been attached to the multi-sponsored Film and Television Job Creation and Retention Act, it passed the state Assembly overwhelming on May 28. About to kick his re-election campaign off, Gov. Jerry Brown has stayed silent on whether he supports such an expansion or not. As they had before, FilmL.A. puts some of the blame for the decline in pilot production in the region on the state’s non-competitive incentives as compared to the likes of Georgia, Louisiana, cities like Vancouver and Toronto and the over $420 million a year that the Empire State aggressively allocates. “Today, the availability of production incentives and established production infrastructure outside Los Angeles make it possible to film series in other places,” says today’s report. “This fact, combined with network decisions about which shows to pick up or cancel in a given year, poses a serious threat to established production centers like Los Angeles.”
However, the lure of tax incentives elsewhere is not the only big reason pilot production is down in L.A. As articulated at this year’s TCA on January 13 by now exiting Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Co. Kevin Reilly, many more broadcasters and other platforms like Netflix are jumping the whole pilot process all together. “If adapting to a new era of television broadcasting means adopting the practice of ordering more shows‘straight‐ to‐ series,’ a review of FilmL.A.’s historical data suggests the ‘13/’14 cycle marks year one of the new era,” today’s report acknowledges. “A total of 38 network, cable and new media shows were ordered straight‐ to‐ series in the ‘13/’14 cycle, which ismore than double the combined total of the three previous development cycles.”