The 2020 broadcast pilot season was decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with all but one pilot unable to be produced. In the face of unprecedented disruption, the networks started veering toward the streaming model with backup scripts and straight-to-series orders.
After the traditional pilot cycle was broken by COVID-19, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke does not think we will ever see another regular broadcast pilot season.
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“I really hope not,” she told Deadline while discussing the network’s 2020-21 schedule. “I hope that one of the silver linings of this is that we have left that behind us and that we are — whether willingly or by sheer force of nature — moving into a more of a year-round pilot production schedule. I think it’s better for all faucets of the business.”
The network has since given straight-to-series orders to David E. Kelley drama Big Sky and Kari Lizer’s multi-camera comedy Call Your Mother.
All of the remaining pilots “are still in contention,” Burke said. To get a better sense of the projects’ potential, ABC’s executives ordered a second backup script for their pilots.
Speaking at Disney’s Virtual Roadshow earlier this month, Burke said that the extra scripts will help “make wiser choices as we ultimately do go into production on some of these pilots”.
That is now on the agenda.
“Our focus over the past few weeks has been on the schedule, and now we are turning our attention to the backup material that we have received on the pilots, and we will be making these decisions in the coming weeks,” Burke told Deadline.
She said she hopes to be able to launch at least one new comedy series in midseason.
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