Just trying to break in to unscripted television? Don’t pitch these kinds of shows — a four point checklist.
Many of YOU have been pitching us!
We’re so happy that many, many of you have been listening to this podcast, and then signing up for our newsletter so that you can pitch your ideas to us.
That said, there are four kinds of show pitches we get again and again, and honestly, they just don’t work these days. We briefly touched on some of these in How to Pitch a Reality Show, but today, we really dig in and give you some detail.
Maybe it’s because people have an idea of what they think “Unscripted TV” means, but for some reason almost all newbies to our world start with pitching something from these four buckets.
Do yourself a favor and avoid these…unless of course you have a REALLY, REALLY good reason to ignore this advice.
4 Kinds of Shows to Avoid Pitching
If you haven’t already hit the giant “Play” button at the top of this post, consider doing so now, before reading the spoiler below.
We’re able to go into much greater detail in the podcast on many points related to reality TV worlds and documentary settings.
Later, what’s inside the spoiler can serve as a handy reminder of this episode’s big points, and add a few handy clarifications:
The 4 types are:
- Kids’ Shows
- Travel Shows
- Dump & Stir Cooking Shows
- Infotainment or Issue Shows that “Shed Light” on Something
Not enough networks buy them. Spending tons of time developing kids shows makes the already difficult task of selling a show nearly impossible.
That great idea you have for a kids’ science show/math show/adventure show/discovery show/travel show/competition show…develop it if you MUST, but realize your chances of success are pretty close to zero (we’d never say zero, since there are some kids’ shows on TV.)
More thoughts on this in the podcast.
The old school “Hundred Greatest Beaches” style shows are now the domain of the web. Road shows where fun people travel around and do fun things are nearly impossible to sell. Shows that “reveal the culture” of another city/state/country/universe each week are generally no-gos.
For a travel show to work it would have to have a BIG NAME talent attached (like if Will Ferrell wanted to do a road show where we went around doing fun things.)
Dump & Stir Cooking Shows
You know these. The old school cooking shows where people stand behind a stove and have a blast cooking and teaching you how to do it. Even Food Network doesn’t want shows like this anymore, which pretty much leaves The Cooking Channel.
If you have the most amazing/funny/charming/incredibly appealing chef the world has ever known, maybe…but even then you’d probably be better off trying to put together a different kind of format or docu-style show.
Infotainment or Issue Shows that “Shed Light” on Something
“Infortainment” or “Edutainment” — basically, anything that is informative first and wildly entertaining second…is not going to sell right now. Neither are shows that take a deep impactful look at a hard-hitting topic. Again, these types of shows are the domain of the web and true indie documentaries, not Unscripted TV. We go into more detail in the podcast.
Be sure to check out the above spoiler at some point by clicking on “SHOW.” It’ll be a good reference and adds some extra perspective to the podcast.
Transcript coming soon!
UPDATE:Transcript Now Available.
Want to start a dialogue with us about your show concepts? (And no, we don’t charge for this. We’re producers, not consultants.)
Read our in-depth page about how to pitch us a show. It also talks about what it’s really like to work in our business, the unscripted TV and film industry.