Fox: The Pilot System Soon to Change

The 21st Century (NASDAQ:FOX)-owned Fox Broadcasting network is making some changes to how it does business — specifically to the pilot season system that, historically, has been the norm. Kevin Reilly, the Chair of entertainment with Fox Broadcasting, announced earlier this week that Fox would no longer be doing annual Television pilots as it has in the past — as reported by Bloomberg.

“We’ve been trying to do away with pilot season for a long time at Fox. The broadcast scheduling process was built for a different era when there were three networks that had a near monopoly. We don’t live in that age anymore,” Reilly said, according to Bloomberg. Reilly explained the company’s reasoning. In the past, an annual cycle would take place in which pilots would air and be tested by broadcasting companies.

Following the brief test period, the pilots chosen to continue continue to become regular seasons. Reilly notes that the way pilots work now has resulted in shows of varying calibers and higher expenses as creators deal with the tight competition and schedule. He believes that making the process ongoing, rather than seasonal, will improve results.

“I’m not making a declaration about the entire industry. I’m just saying this is what’s best for Fox and our talent,” said Reilly, according to Bloomberg. The largest networks, all ahead of Fox at present, include Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) American Broadcasting Company, CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS), and Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) National Broadcasting Corporation.

NBC, ABC, and CBS may all be ahead of Fox for the moment, but this season has shown a 4.4 percent increase in viewership from last year around this time with 6.94 million watching. While it’s lost some of its popularity, Fox has something that NBC, ABC, and CBS do not — American Idol. While its viewership has predictably dropped, according to Bloomberg, last year Idol still took ninth place with 13.1 million tuning in to watch.

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