We have a new idea for TV execs:
Networks have increasingly been experimenting with giving viewers early looks at coming shows on their official Web sites, as well as on iTunes and through DVD rentals. But recently at least 10 unaired pilots have been leaked—apparently without the networks’ permission—to so-called peer-to-peer networks that allow users to download files stored on each others’ computers. In many cases, the pilots appear to have been “ripped” from official DVDs made for reviewers and company executives.
It’s unclear whether the leaks resulted from security breaches or quiet efforts to promote the shows. In either case, Internet leaks can sometimes pay off for TV shows. In June, a TV pilot called “Nobody’s Watching,” which the WB network had passed on, was leaked to the video-sharing site YouTube. It generated enough of an audience online that NBC decided to pick up the show for development.
At least four of CBS’s fall pilots have been circulated on the Web, a development that CBS spokesman Chris Ender calls “both flattering and frightening.” He adds: “We’re pleased that there’s an early demand for our shows but the marketing benefits can’t excuse what is illegal theft of our programming.”
Here is our simple plan for TV execs to make a killing:
Step 1: Take pilots that were never going to air anyways (so no loss of advertising revenue) and “leak” them onto the net.
Step 2: See which pilots the public actually likes as opposed to holding secretive meetings where you risk your career guessing what they like.
Step 3: Greenlight the shows that are popular.
Step 4: Make vague sounds about “theft” of your pilots to make them “edgy” and “underground.”
Step 5: PROFIT!
How exactly does uploading these pilots cause any harm to the networks? Since these usually don’t air, they don’t even lose commercial revenue.