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Fox Is Looking To Change Up How TV Shows Pilots Are Aired

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By Carolyn B.

TV viewing has been steadily changing for the past several years. Cable TV broke new ground with what sorts of subjects could be discussed. Streaming services introduced more long-form and creator-driven titles. Binge-watching saved series that were at risk of being canceled and inspired creators to write their series in a way that would cater to streaming audiences whether or not the shows originally aired on network TV.

All of this has caused networks, cable companies, and streaming services to dream up new ways to stay ahead of the game. Now Fox has some interesting ideas on how to do just that.

Bucking Tradition

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Traditionally, networks would order pilots and renew series around January, with most shows filming well in advance of their premieres around the back-to-school season. Breaks wherein new episodes are not aired are often taken around the holidays and again in Spring.

Fox has indeed ordered pilots this month, as is customary. But the network has announced a shift in its programming planning, the company aims to leave the cycle entirely in the future. The idea is to order pilots throughout the year.

When You're Ready, You Know

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According to Fox's president of entertainment, Michael Thorn, the move is meant to allow the network access to fully formed ideas. Rather than rushing creators to fit their series into a January deadline, the network wishes to pick up shows "when they're ready".

The high turnover rate of TV series and canceled pilots has long been a topic of discussion, especially for screenwriters hoping to get their big ideas in front of powerful execs. It will be interesting to see if this strategy helps to create more longevity for fledgling titles.

Make 'Em Laugh

Family Guy characters
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The network is also hoping to breathe fresh air into its comedy offerings after a lackluster Fall season. Despite being home to many popular and long-running animated comedies like Bob's Burgers and Family Guy, Fox did not pick up any new live-action comedies in the Fall of 2019.

To make up for this, the network has ordered several new live-action comedies this year, including the Final Destination star Ali Larter's single mom comedy and Football Book Club and several more titles.

The Big Merger

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These changes come not long after Disney's major acquisition of the Fox film and television studios. Disney also now holds a major stake in the streaming service Hulu.

The merger put fans on edge, with many viewers fearing their favorite envelope-pushing animated series like The Simpsons would be forced to conform to Disney's family-favorite image. Especially due to some of these Fox titles being included on Disney+. So far, there has been no indication that these series will have to change the nature of their content.

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