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new programming acquistion

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Art Garfield
new programming acquistion
on Aug 3, 2011 at 10:05:52 pm

What are networks paying for new original shows? Is there a scale?
FOX, NBC, COMEDY CENTRAL,FX, SPIKE, CARTOON NETWORK, MYV, there a website that shares this info..?

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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: new programming acquistion
on Aug 4, 2011 at 8:11:38 pm

I would suggest looking to industry rags - Variety, Hollywood Reporter, LA Times as well as NAB. Nobody really knows how much people get paid except the production company and network accountants.

A production company will need to budget out what they need to get to produce the show (on a per-episode and per-season basis) and the network will need to decide what it's willing to pay - ever the twain shall meet. I don't think there are standard numbers for what show A or B gets and I'm pretty sure broadcast networks (ABC, NBC) pay more than cable/satellite (USA, TBS) or pay cable (Showtime, HBO).

Remember the pay cable people get money from subscribers, but the basic cable and broadcast folks get revenue from advertising. All get syndication monies, DVD sales, licensing, streaming money (like netflix), etc. Broadcast is the big money still as they have the most eyeballs. Regular cable is good, but because there are so many more competing networks, ad dollars are slim. Niche markets like Syfy, Nickelodeon, et al. don't get as many eyeballs so they don't get as much money - you have to split screen time with dozens of similar networks with similar content.

Most networks have to produce original content to set themselves apart and compete for eyeballs. The good news is that there are lots of little niches to get into and more and more networks to sell content to. Not all networks are the same and not all are managed equally. Consequently, some pay more and some pay less. As a producer, you will need to weigh the budget or what they offer with what you think you can produce the show for. If they offer $10,000 an episode and you can't make it for less than $12,000, you either cut your budget or the deal won't work. Same as any other business.

Last, before you go worrying about how much to ask for a show, you have to produce the show - unless you already have a couple TV shows under your belt, but I'm guessing you aren't there yet (sorry if I'm wrong). I say make a killer show the people adore, then worry about getting a deal. You probably won't get a deal without something to show anyway, right? If you already have a relationship, it makes pitching much faster and easier - they already know you can make shows and money. This is all my opinion, too. I'm open to others - I've never actually put any show on TV other than access cable.

Jonathan Ziegler

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Nick Griffin
Re: new programming acquistion
on Aug 5, 2011 at 9:16:05 pm

[Jonathan Ziegler] "I'm pretty sure broadcast networks (ABC, NBC) pay more than cable/satellite (USA, TBS) or pay cable (Showtime, HBO)."

First, I work in industrials so I have no first hand experience with entertainment. That said, I'm not sure it's accurate to say that ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox necessarily pay more than the top cable channels. At the very least there's a lot of variation, based on a number of factors, not the least of which is what's paid to name brand versus non-name brand on screen talent.

Many of the shows on the leading cable channels like USA, TNT, AMC, FX, etc. win higher ratings than do some of the shows on the big 4 broadcast networks. You might assume that "The Closer" (on TNT?) or "Burn Notice" on USA can't be that high a budget, yet they're getting more eyeballs than a great many of the broadcast dramas and more eyeballs means higher ad rates which means, we can assume, higher production budgets.

As to pay cable, ie. HBO and Showtime, they have to spend really big bucks otherwise people would stop paying higher cable bills to get to see them.

When I visited and wrote about HBO's The Wire for the COW, I was told that their budget for the 13 show final season was $33 to $35 million -- right on par with some of the higher end broadcast network shows. And have you seen Boardwalk empire? Those sets and that much GCI where the sets are extended can't be cheap.

Anyway... just the ramblings of someone who aims cameras at factories and machinery rather than celebrity actors.

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walter biscardi
Re: new programming acquistion
on Aug 5, 2011 at 9:27:49 pm

[Jonathan Ziegler] " don't think there are standard numbers for what show A or B gets and I'm pretty sure broadcast networks (ABC, NBC) pay more than cable/satellite (USA, TBS) or pay cable (Showtime, HBO)."

Blanket statements like that might have been accurate 10 or 15 years ago. Wholly inaccurate today.

The deal one gets is wholly dependent on the production company, the cast involved and a number of other factors. There is no "scale." There is what you get and what everyone else gets.

The better questions is "how much does X Program on Y Network get?" For instance, the last number I heard for Dirty Jobs on Discovery Network was $750,000 per episode in production costs.

We know from all the press coverage that Charlie Sheen used to make $1.3 million per episode for "2 1/2 Men" on CBS.

Subscribing to Television Week is a great way to find out who is selling shows and sometimes you can get good budget information from there too. That and RealScreen are my two primary sources for distribution information.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Art Garfield
Re: new programming acquistion
on Aug 5, 2011 at 9:35:35 pm

all good responses..i guess by scale I meant..low end to top end budgets...or minimum to highest paid..

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Scott Carnegie
Re: new programming acquistion
on Aug 5, 2011 at 2:30:01 pm

It will vary greatly depending on the broadcaster and the type of show. NBC paying for Law and Order will cost a lot more than Spike paying for "1000 Ways to Die".

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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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