What programs do tv channels want ?

Pitching a relevant idea is key.

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It’s a tough question, what programs do tv channels want to commission? In 2016 with so much choice its difficult to know.

Broadcast magazine recently featured a couple of useful articles that offer us an insight into what the top bosses are after.

Many production companies only develop ideas in house, but we’re different. 

At gassProductions we develop ideas in- house and ideas we receive through our website.

If our users know what TV bosses are looking for, it means they’re more likely to send in relevant ideas for development.


The Controllers Wish List

It would seem that each controller is extremely hungry for a fresh approach. 

Here is a copy of the wish lists from some of the UK’s major TV bosses. 

It helps to shed some light when answering the difficult question; What programs do tv channels want ?

Kevin Lygo – ITV, Director of television.

LygoCookery, travel, consumer shows and make-over formats are high on Lygo’s factual shopping list. The former ITV studios boss said that ITV’s factual deficit offers “great opportunities” for producers. He also outlined a further push into crime programming and floated the idea of a 12-week crime and punishment strand hosting all ITV crime docs to ensure “audiences know exactly where it is and what they’re going to get”

Patrick Holland – BBC2, Channel editor.

hollandHolland has placed factual entertainment programming at the top of his wish list, claiming that BBC 2 doesn’t receive enough pitches. The former boss is on the hunt for “ambitious factual entertainment, whether thats through the entertainment department, or whether it’s through one of the factual sub genres”. BBC2 is also looking for companions for Second Chance Summer, a social experiment from Twofour that follows older people building a new life in Tuscany.

Ben Frow – C5, Director of programmes.

ben frowFrow is preparing a further push into scripted TV.He has ordered a drama to air next year and wants to build on its recent LittleRock Pictures produced mockumentary Borderline. The former C4 executive said returnable 8pm or 9pm shows are the “hardest thing to find” and called for more pitches as he reveal plans to shift US acquisitions to a later 10pm slot. He has commissioned two natural history shows and is committed to Big Brother.

Richard Watsham – UKTV, Director of commissioning.

Richard-WatshamWatsham is hunting a motoring format to sit alongside repeats of Top Gear and wants ideas that can broaden Dave’s scope, building on its forthcoming Avalon-produced topical news show Unspun with Matt Forde. He is also hinting factual entertainment formats for 8pm. Scripted comedy is a priority for both Dave and Gold, and UKTV would like live event specials for all three stations. A key priority for Watsham is talent-led formats.

For the full article you’ll need to grab a copy of Broadcast magazine from the 2nd of September which you can order here

There’s lots of interesting articles that help answer the question What programs do tv channels want ?


“More Original Ideas” say Factual bosses

It would seem that when it comes to factual entertainment many of the major channels are not just looking for innovative, fresh TV ideas.

There is just as much interest in innovation and inventive new ways of filming. This allows new stories to be told in a different way.

What the press say

In Miranda Blazeby’s recent Broadcast article (issue 02/09/2016) she investigates how the “pursuit of a factual hit has resulted in producers creating derivative shows that crowd the schedules”.

Her article throws up some interesting comments from various factual TV bosses.

Ralph Lee, (Channel 4’s deputy creative officer) comments on how production company Blast’s forthcoming Last Seen on CCTV for BBC1 was basically a re-hack of Channel 4 series CCTV : Caught on Camera.

“For me, i look at that and i think we need to move faster, we need to evolve. We’ve got to get film makers out there who want to shoot on different lenses, who want to shoot on different technology and aren’t just going to replicate these things we see on TV every night of the week”.

When it came to investing in the development of ideas the BBC’s acting controller of factual Alison Kirkham commented that

 “It’s better to put fewer ideas into development. Rather than giving everyone £500 or £1000 to go on a wild goose chase thats unlikely to come to anything, I’d rather we put a bit more money behind fewer ideas that are more likely to come to fruition”.

Ralph Lee agreed,

“The things that convert into commissions are where you spend £80,000 or do a micro pilot. That’s where development money is much more productive.”


What programs do tv channels want ?- in summary

Contact TV commissioners

It’s important to realise that the needs and fashions of TV can change very quickly.

This is what commissioners want now, in six months time it could be very different.

Thats why it’s always difficult to answer the question, what programs do tv channels want?

The point to take from this article; there is a real thirst from the major channels to deliver fresh new ideas across all of their genre’s. Particularly factual entertainment programs.

It’s important these shows are not just a re-hack of an idea that already exists, commissioners want something new. In addition this makes them a bit more picky.

Try to think outside the box, but remember its often the simple ideas that are the best ideas.

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