Friday, February 25, 2011

Yet Even More, MORE Stuff From The Mailbag...

Reader JPilot writes:

Hey Steve,
Would it be preferable to pitch to a broadcaster or a production company first?

Hello Jean,
The simple answer is - I don't know. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Let's assume that you show your (ANIMATION/KIDS) pitch to the broadcasters. In Toronto, it's YTV, Teletoon, TVO and CBC (possibly).

WORST CASE SCENARIO - none of the broadcasters are interested. You can't sell your show to local production companies, because you've already shown it to the broadcasters (their market). In that case you have to shelve the property (until the broadcast buyers are replaced) and then rework it to freshen it up for a repitch - 5 years down the road.

If you lie to the production companies and say that you haven't shown it to the broadcasters - they'll find out soon enough and you'll be toast. So don't do that.

BEST CASE SCENARIO - The Broadcaster is interested and wants you to get a production company onboard. This is the Best Case Scenario - because then EVERYONE LOVES YOU! You've done all the hard work and assumed all the risk for them. In that case, set up pitch meetings with 2, 3, 4 production companies... Hell, set up pitch meetings everywhere.With any luck, you'll have a bidding war on your hands. WARNING - Those who lose the bidding war will be mighty pissed off at you.

An the bright side, because the broadcaster likes your creative, you have much more creative control over the show. You become a key player. More about this...

If you pitch your show to a production company, it's one of many on their roster.

ADVANTAGES - Depending on what you negotiate, you can receive and Option Fee which allows them to pitch/develop your property for a specific period of time (the option period). Another advantage is that the production company would have a sales staff with the money and contacts to sell your show to broadcasters worldwide.

DISADVANTAGES - They will put their grubby fingers all over your work. Don't get me started.

Development Exec: Steve. You're ONLY the writer...

Steve's Agent: Steve. Put down the axe...

So which one do I recommend? I don't know. I'm currently pitching shows to broadcasters and production companies. It depends on what I feel is right for that particular show, personal relationships with the players, etc.

It all comes down to the old... NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.


  1. Thank you Steve,
    This brings me to my 3rd option: if you can, produce it yourself and broadcast it yourself, after everyone else has passed on it, of course.

  2. So what if your were not only to produce a pitch bible, but also a pilot or teaser animation to accompany the pitch? would this sweeten the deal from the broadcasters pov?

  3. Every deal, every project, every broadcaster is different.

    If the pilot/teaser "sells" the show concept, then it's a good move. But different viewers will have different reactions: The broadcaster LOVED my Freaky Pilot. The government funding agencies didn't get it at all - which was very bad.

  4. youtube pays you for a certain amount of hits

  5. YouTube doesn't pay you enough for "a certain amount" of hits. And you require millions of hits.