Purgatory for Pilots

Variety reports that the web is becoming a haven for busted TV pilots:

In recent weeks, at least four failed pilots
from the 2005-06 development season have ended up online on services
such as YouTube and Break.com. Inspired by the saga of "Nobody’s
Watching" — the year-old WB pilot that found new life after popping up
on YouTube (Daily Variety, July 21) — interested parties seem intent on getting their work out to viewers, one way or another.

has sent studios scrambling, forcing them to quickly decide whether to
let the shows live online, where they might build a cult following, or
ask the services to yank them. For the most part, studios seem to be
choosing the latter option.

While the studios pretend that these pilots "mysteriously" show up on the net, and that their lawyers are furious about it, they almost always give up the act (or at least delay taking action) after the pilots begin getting  some buzz and wracking up hits.

Studio insiders warn that producers or talent who leak pilots could face penalties.
it seems unlikely studios will risk alienating creators, especially
since most pilots simply die after they’re rejected by networks. If
anything, having consumers respond positively to a show rejected by a
network only serves to validate the studio’s decision to take a risk on
a project.

And while "Nobody’s Watching" has generated much hype
for its YouTube resurrection, it’s hardly the first pilot to find a
life on the service.

Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel’s cult
classic "Lookwell" has been seen more than 50,000 times, while
"Awesometown" — the Fox sketch comedy pilot starring "Saturday Night
Live’s" Andy Samberg — has been streamed over 225,000 times.

2 thoughts on “Purgatory for Pilots”

  1. The first thing I thought was, why don’t the studios pre-screen pilots on the internet and allow potential audiences to decide what’s a likelier hit series?
    Then the steam is under their control and it saves them a huge investment in a dud series that would never take off, and allows the audience to have a say in what is interesting them.
    It’s win-win.
    Or am I being naive?


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