It’s well known that some movies get stuck on the shelf for a while, only to be dumped onto DVD or VOD without much fanfare; after all, somebody needs to make some money for all that work. Billboard’s No. 2 album of the past week was the posthumous Michael Jackson compilation Xscape, released in part because some people needed to get paid. But what happens to TV pilots that never made it to TV audiences? Not a damn thing for now, but that’s where ScreenHits is going to make its mark.
A startup company created by entrepreneur and CEO Rose Adkins, ScreenHits is a rather unique online marketplace for distribution companies to acquire TV shows, digital programming and films, based on direct correspondence with audiences, who can presumably rate and comment on content for studio perusal. The site goes live on May 28, but it’s July 1 that really has our attention, as that’s when ScreenHits will debut their Pilot Showcase.
The Pilot Showcase, according to Variety, will host 50 produced pilots that weren’t picked up to series, and since the shows will have Hulu-like advertising breaks, this will serve as a way for producers and studios to make back some of the money spent on productions and casts. What’s more, they’ll remain on the site for six months, where networks could theoretically then step in and pick the show up, assuming everyone involved is still available.
Apparently people can also pre-order series if they indeed get acquired, but I don’t really understand what they’re ordering, unless it gets picked up to air on ScreenHits for a premium price. Without being able to see the website in motion, I’m not quite sure how it’s going to work.
Adkins, a former employee of NBCUniversal, already has a deal to air projects from Lionsgate, Fox International Channels, Hasbro, eOne, Turner Broadcasting System, Telemundo Media and more. ScreenHits is also working to allow advertisers to “pick pilots to back and finance for completion as branded entertainment.” Does that mean we’ll be getting the Doritos Variety Hour at some point?
Intelligent thinking is all over this deal, although it’s arguably a few years too late. This would have been a most welcome outpost in years past when networks passed on pilots both potentially amazing and/or already advertised to be the best thing since a reality show about sliced bread. NBC’s Day One comes to mind. And let’s not forget the same network’s botched Wonder Woman pilot, which audiences would have inevitably forced into existence had ScreenHits been around in 2011. Also, I’ll never forgive whoever it was that kept Joe Hill’s genius comic Locke & Key from becoming a series.
The industry is moving away from the pilot process, shifting over to ordering entire series straight out. And while that seems like the obvious route, perhaps ScreenHits will shake things up and flip things back around to pilot-friendly line-ups. Perhaps we'll find an answer on or after July 1. Sign up here!