Networks Tighten Belts, Cut Pilots
Television networks are drastically reducing the number of pilots scheduled for production this year, according to statements issued in the last few days by many of the major networks. An elimination of pilots and reduction in the number of new script orders was announced by several networks recently, with each of the statements citing a need to cut costs due to the writers’ strike.
According to Variety, CBS announced that it had dropped several scripts due to the work stoppage late last week, while 20th Century Fox and CW announced this week that they were each dropping 8-12 pilots from their upcoming production schedules.
"Due to the ongoing work stoppage, the CW will be taking a more targeted approach to what is certain to be a truncated pilot season," the [network] said in a statement released Tuesday. "As a result, we are releasing some scripts that had been in development in order to dedicate our creative energy and resources to those projects we choose to pursue."
Variety also reports that ABC has issued a warning to its studio chiefs that script orders could be cut more than 30 percent if the strike continues, although no cuts have been made thus far.
The New York Times also reports today that NBC announced plans to cut up to $50 million each year in expenses earmarked for pilot production, citing a need to reassess their finances in light of the writers’ strike and a slow U.S. economy.
[Chief Executive of NBC Universal Jeff] Zucker acknowledged that one reason for the decision was that NBC has suffered from weak prime-time ratings for the last several seasons. “Sometimes you see the world from a different perspective when you’re flat on your back,” he said. “At NBC Entertainment we’ve been flat on our backs for the last few years.”