'Stability' Reflected in Fewer Pilots, International Buyers Reassured.

Position:L.A. Screenings Review

The number of exhibitors at the Intercontinental Hotel remained exactly the same as last year--84--but at the recently concluded L.A. Screenings, some content sellers reported having back-to-back meetings scheduled --especially on Wednesday, May 15, the market's second day.

With an estimated total of 1,200 buyers, the number of international acquisition executives was definitely lower as compared to last year's event, but, as one distributor put it, "the meetings were of a higher quality."

As usual, the L.A. Screenings started with the indies' segment of the market, followed by the studios' bit. The indies' session (which started on Monday, May 13 with the setting up of the hotel's exhibition suites) kicked off with seminars organized by NATPE, the Los Angeles-based TV trade organization, followed by NATPE's opening party on Tuesday.

NATPE once again teamed up with Isabella Marquez's Events TM to coordinate the exhibition suites set-up, organize the seminars, and provide the logistics for the six events (i.e., seminars, screenings, and parties) staged at the Intercontinental, the organic market's headquarters.

The reason the L.A. Screenings are called an "organic" market is because no organization actually organizes it. The event's calendar dates are tied to the so-called "Upfronts," when TV networks in New York City present their pilots for the next season to advertising clients and their agencies with the intent of selling up to 80 percent of their prime-time network ad inventory in advance. Once the networks make their pilot selections, the action moves to Los Angeles where buyers gather to screen the pilots at the studio lots. Prior to the studio screenings, international buyers --mostly from Latin America, but increasingly from other regions--visit the Intercontinental to meet with the exhibiting indie distributors.

In terms of studio output, these most recent screenings were undoubtedly skimpy, especially when compared to last year. Out of 65 pilots commissioned, only 35 were selected by the major U.S. broadcast TV networks, with Disney providing the largest output with five dramas and five comedies. Overall, dramas won out over comedies with 21 new series.

In comparison, last year, 76 pilots were commissioned by the networks, and out of those, 38 were selected for the 2018-2019 broadcast TV season, which ended in May.

The official reason given by the networks for this year's reduced numbers (which were equally divided between fall...

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