By Norma Reveler
BANFF – A channel in the Netherlands this year created some primetime programming out of just airing pilots, and the experiment was so successful it plans to continue. And the BBC3 is set to follow suit.
During a Banff World Television Festival session Wednesday on “Are Pilots Still an Effective Tool”, Roeke Lips, Channel Manager of Dutch broadcaster Nederland 3, explained the channel wanted to do something a little risky.
It put out a call for pilots and chose 19 of them (20 hours in duration), some of them were repeated, and were broadcast during prime time into the evening for a week last fall.
The public was asked to comment on the pilots through social media, using the Internet, mobile, etc. Lips said 6,000 people joined the public panel judging the pilots – a significant number in smaller Holland. The panel lasted three weeks and included 12,000 questions.
And it was a ratings bonanza.
Nine of the pilots – close to half, which is amazing – were picked up to be developed as series’, said Lips.
The experiment was so successful that the Nederland 3 is going to run another week of pilots in prime time this September, and also set aside another time slot each weekly for broadcasting pilots. However, the pilot that will be shown each week will not be listed in the TV guide. “We want to surprise people when they tune in,” Lips stated.
The pilots are now being examined in advance of them being produced and the TV station is helping get them developed. Lips said he has a production budget now for pilots to which producers and others contribute. His budget was about 1,000 euros per minute for the pilots.
“TV is about storytelling. It’s like cooking in a foreign kitchen. You try ingredients you haven’t tried before and you put it on the table for testing,” he said.
The Nederland 3 has tested live streaming of the news on the Internet, and Lips plans to do the same with three pilots. “The Internet will help produce an audience for the pilots,” he noted.
“Pilots are a good opportunity to develop new programming,” he concluded.
Norma Reveler was in Banff this week covering the Banff International Television Festival for Cartt.ca