Who owns a TV show in the land of unscripted television? Like it or not, when it comes to documentary series, reality TV, true crime, and anything else that is considered “unscripted” — the owner is not usually the producer (not in America, anyway. Europe is different.) Just like us, you may spend months or years developing a project. But when it finally gets to air, someone else (the network, a studio, or a combination of both) will more than likely take all or most of the ownership. They’ll profit from selling the show around the world, merchandising, and more. You’ll be hired to work on the show, receive on-screen credit, but likely share in no profits, or none worth speaking of. To many (including us when we first started) this is hard to swallow. So why does it work this way? Should you allow someone else to own the show you develop? And what options do you have if you absolutely want to be the one who owns a TV show? We’ve got your answers…
Who Owns a TV Show? Probably Not Who You Think…
If you’ve heard stories of writers in scripted television who make a fortune in royalties once their TV show goes into reruns, you might think a similar model applies to unscripted television.
Unfortunately, at this time, it does not.
(At least, not in America. Our friends across the pond work very differently, but today we’re discussing American television. If you’re listening to this in Europe, it’s a completely different ballgame. More on that some other time.)
So How Does it All Work?
As we discuss in today’s podcast, we still love making unscripted television for a variety of reasons.
So in this ep, we’ll help you explore how the industry works right now when it comes to who owns a TV show. We’ll also give you some options if you feel there’s no way you want to let go of owning the show you develop.
Just some of what we discuss today:
- Understanding how ownership in usncripted TV works
- Why we still love making shows even with the current business model
- Trailblazers in the unscripted industry…and why things have changed
- What a Time Buy is…and isn’t
- Considerations about other platforms for content creators
- People who are doing better on the web than on TV
- And…they day Joke stole Biagio’s heart!
Ownership in unscripted television is tricky, and understanding it will likely affect how your mold your career.
Press that giant PLAY button at the top of this page for the ins and outs of who owns a TV show in the land of unscripted television.
Helpful and Related Links
- Launch Your Own TV Channel on Brisquet – we recently had an interesting meeting with this new startup. They want to help people launch their own TV channels that will show up in places like Roku boxes. Sounds very promising.
- Is Hollywood As We Know It Already Over? – A thought provoking read about why one Hollywood insider decided the game was no longer worth it, and is instead looking at tech.
- Rosanna Pansino on YouTube – a contestant on our TV show Scream Queens went on to start her own incredibly successful YouTube channel. She’s doing far better than most TV producers.
- Rhett & Link on YouTube – They were the stars of our IFC TV series Commercial Kings. But for these two, they’ve found their real success on YouTube, and also on a second channel they started: Good Mythical Morning.
- Follow us on Twitter: @JokeAndBiagio – we’re around often and try to respond to most tweets.
Let’s Make Some TV Together
Trying to break into unscripted television, reality TV, documentary series, or true crime? Want to pitch to our company? Here’s what to do next:
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.