It’s seven years since then-Fox chief Kevin Reilly declared “RIP pilot season”.
Today, NBC chiefs Susan Rovner and Frances Berwick were the latest top broadcast executives to declare the traditional cycle dead with the network looking to replace it with a “52-week scheduling mindset”.
Rovner, who is Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, speaking at the unveiling of its fall schedule, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has ignited this change.
“The unique circumstances of this year have made us relook at how we approach the traditional broadcast pilot season and I really think it’s going to benefit all of us. Rather than competing each year with other networks for the best directors, best actors and best writing staff all in the same small window, we’re now going to be able to take the time to make the best show, period,” she said.
The former Warner Bros. exec said that with this new mindset, it may hand series orders to pilot pick-ups for 2021/22 midseason or roll over new dramas and comedies to the 2022/23 season.
Projects that will be considered for this new cycle include the reboot of Night Court, starring Melissa Rauch and John Larroquette, Demi Lovato food issues comedy Hungry, rom-com Someone Out There, which is based on Spanish format Pequeñas Coincidencias and comes from Forever creator Matt Hubbard and The Good Place’s Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, drama Dangerous Moms, another Spanish format from Claws showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois, wedding island disaster thriller Getaway, from JJ Bailey, Moira Kirland and The Blacklist duo John David and John Fox and an untitled bank heist drama from Jake Coburn, Nick Wootton and Julie Plec.
“Covid actually forced us to relook at our pilot season initially, it’s something that everyone always talks about but Covid made us truly look at it. Our goal is to try and do it year-round now instead of competing in that short window,” Rovner added.
She said that, ultimately, she thinks it will be better for creatives. However, she admitted that they will need to work “hand-in-hand” with advertisers – the money folk who are generally interested in a big upfront bang – to explain what’s coming. “Ultimately, if we’re making the best shows, everyone is going to win,” Rovner added.
In addition to Covid, one of the things that stopped NBC from having a quote/unquote traditional pilot season was the timing of Rovner’s hiring. She joined in October and many of these pilots above weren’t ordered until April with only one of them, Hungry, actively casting.