The BBC is to trial selected TV shows online first before putting them on the network rotation. Up to 40 hours of original material will be tested on the corporation’s iPlayer in this manner.
Until now, the BBC’s online-only content has been limited to comedy pilots and one-off shows such as the Doctor Who web series Pond Life, but now it’s like they are turning iPlayer into a minor league system for the big league BBC network.
I’m surprised American networks don’t do something similar. Even better would be using an online audience to crowd-source the pilot season.
Here’s my idea: Why not turn the television development process into a reality show competition with the pilots (or, in this instance, the first four episodes of the series would get made to give voters a better flavor for the show) airing online and with a viewer vote to determine which shows end up airing on the network roster? It would essentially be a show about the sausage of getting shows made.
So, not only would television diehards get to know some of the people creating the shows, but they would also help decide which pilots get greenlit and eventually which of those shows make it on air. As a bonus, you would be drumming up buzz, tangential marketing for the shows, and a loyal audience ready to watch the shows when they air all in one package.
A network green lights a few dozen TV pilots every year, then whittles that list down to what makes it on air. Eventually, shows that don’t perform well get cancelled, shows that do well get picked up for a full season or renewed for a second season. This process repeats itself over and over again every year with good shows not finding an audience, bad shows making it to air, etc. This reality show competition for crowd-sourcing network TV shows could be a game-changer.
Why has this never been done before?