Fox Boss Says Network Will ‘Bypass Pilot Season’

Jan 13, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Speaking today at the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour, Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly said the broadcast network will bypass pilot season this year. Variety reports that the move is "part of the network’s ongoing effort to develop and produce series on a year-round basis."

During the opening comments before today’s executive session, Reilly quipped: "RIP pilot season."

Adds The Hollywood Reporter: "Before he welcomed questions from reporters … he turned on an egg timer and began reeling off a series of points, from the state of the industry’s ratings system to his plans to blow up pilot season."

THR notes that Reilly’s network has already made inroads in that direction.

"In his bid to ‘bypass’ pilot season, he has been focused on series — rather than pilot — orders throughout the year, with some 10 projects already in production without picking up a single pilot," the report notes. "Among the latter: ‘Gracepoint’ (10-episode order), ‘Hieroglyph’ (13-episode order) and Batman origin story ‘Gotham,’ which while it was ordered as a pilot is being prepped for a series."

THR quotes Reilly saying: “The broadcast development system was built in different era and is highly inefficient. It is nothing short of a miracle talent can still produce anything of quality in that environment.”

Variety adds: "Reilly emphasized that the changes in the competitive landscape with cable and in the ways people watch television these days make it nonsensical to continue with the tradition of jamming pilot production into a few months."

Said Reilly, according to Variety: “I’m not making declarations about what anyone else should do. For Fox I think we can build a more talent-friendly way of doing this … that will give us more maneuverability and more scheduling and marketing flexibility.”

"He also stressed the need for network TV shows to be given longer lead times in production and, particularly in the case of mythos-rich serialized shows, shorter orders than 22," Variety adds.

Variety quotes Reilly also saying: “Shows that are highly complex just benefit from a more compact (production). It’s really the rare creator who can tell you where it ends at the end of a season of 22 episodes. The challenge is that with really talented people who are sleeping four hours a night and managing a $100 million machine with hundreds of people producing it — you can lose your way. When you’re doing 13 you just feel like you have a little bit more control of the ship.”

kevin reilly.pngKevin Reilly


  1. Finally, someone sees that the viewer has moved past the 22 week cycle for programming. Significantly fewer episodes usually produce a tighter framework and better drama. Now we need the other networks to also see the light!

  2. But the brilliant part is saving the $50 million (or more) wasted during traditional pilot season by shooting full episodes of scripts that will never see the light of day. Now television networks will have to judge their pick-ups on the strength of scripts and casting — same as movie studios.
    Having seen the development process from the inside for a decade or so, I can’t imagine the loss of pilots will hurt the viewer. Though lots and lots of cast and crew members will be out of work…

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