How To Pitch A Reality Show
This page will tell you everything you need to know about how to pitch a reality show, and more.
Are you looking to pitch:
- Reality TV shows?
- Documentary series?
- Factual programming?
- Unscripted television?
You’re in the right place. By the end of this guide, you will know how to pitch a reality show. Maybe you’ll even become one of our success stories.
You can read the entire guide “How to Pitch a Reality Show” below, or share this post to download the free ebook version.
How to Pitch a Reality Show in 5 Steps
- Read this free guide
- Fully understand how the unscripted television and film business works
- Prepare your pitch for different TV networks and streaming platforms
- Determine if you need to team with a third party approved production company
- Take your pitch to buyers
This guide will teach you how to do all of that, and much more.
Why Take Our Advice?
We’re a married team, pitching, selling, and making unscripted entertainment for a living. TV networks trust our documentary, true crime, and reality TV production company to deliver finished television series.
Realscreen Magazine covered our company in great depth. You can also read about our shows in Hollywood trades like Deadline Hollywood covering Unmasking a Killer, Variety reporting on Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, or The Hollywood Reporter covering MTV’s Caged.
Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina are named as executive producers (that’s us). You’ll find our production company, Joke Productions, listed as well. We’ve made over a hundred hours of unscripted television.
Every one of those shows began with a reality TV pitch of some kind. This free guide will help you create pitches for unscripted television that will get you noticed.
Why We Wrote This
The question we’re asked most is “how can I pitch a reality show?”
It’s no wonder…good advice on the unscripted television business is hard to come by.
A lot of the “reality TV advice” that litters the internet was written by people who’ve never sold or made a show, or don’t understand how the unscripted television business works. Much of the information about making documentaries looks it the subject in relation to theatrical releases, not making television series.
So we designed “How to Pitch a Reality Show” to be the web’s best, totally honest, and insanely helpful free resource about pitching factual entertainment.
All backed up by real world examples and experiences from TV shows we’ve both sold and produced, taking productions from beginning to end.
Our hope is that this guide saves you time and resources, and of course, that you consider pitching your shows to us.
The web’s best, totally honest & insanely helpful free resource about pitching reality TV shows.
This is Also a Companion Guide
This guide goes hand in hand with our site Producing Unscripted, which we built to teach you the ins and outs of making reality TV, documentary series, and true crime.
To stay up to date and get tips and info on pitching reality television, get our newsletter.
To hear us discuss many of these topics in depth (while having a blast doing it) be sure to check out our Make Reality TV Podcast. With over 100 episodes, there’s plenty to learn about unscripted television. It’s all there for the taking.
(It was not easy for Biagio to talk Joke into doing a podcast. But it was SO worth it!)
Ane be sure to follow and interact with us on Twitter to keep learning about unscripted television. We do get busy (especially in production) but we try to be responsive on twitter whenever possible. And, in the last ten years, we’ve met some great people there.
Table of Contents (clickable links)
How To Pitch a Reality Show
I What We’ll Cover in “How to Pitch a Reality Show”
There is A LOT here. If you spend the time to read, understand, and execute what we discuss, you’ll be miles ahead of most people who pitch reality ideas to us.
- FIRST: We’ll give you the background info you need to know about the reality TV business. You’ll learn how different kinds of reality TV shows work. Plus, we’ll break down why you should avoid pitching certain kinds of shows when you’re just starting out.
- NEXT: We’ll dispel some myths about reality TV “ideas.” We’ll explore why written descriptions have very little to do with how to pitch a reality show. You’ll learn to create pitch materials, and how to make yourself valuable when pitching reality TV.
- FINALLY: We’ll talk about where and how to pitch a reality show once you’ve put together your pitch package. From pitch pits, to production companies, to networks, we’ll break down your options. And of course, we hope you’ll pitch to us, too.
When you’re done, you’ll know how to pitch a reality show that excites professionals.
We’d love it if your concept is something we can make together.
1 Understanding How Reality TV Works
In section 1, Understanding How Reality TV Works, we give you an overview of different types of reality TV shows.
- What types of reality shows different networks program
- How different kinds of shows are structured
- What kind of pitches new producers are most likely to sell.
Wrapping your head around the different genres, styles, and structures of unscripted television will give you a giant leg up on most new producers pitching reality TV.
1a Different Types of Reality Shows
People tend to lump all reality TV together in one giant bucket of “unscripted stew.”
But there’s a wide range of reality TV shows out there, more properly called “unscripted programming.”
When you start thinking about how to pitch a reality show, it’s important to recognize different reality TV genres and types of shows.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s talk about movies for a second.
We’ve all seen plenty of films.
The Notebook couldn’t be more different than Plan 9 from Outer Space, right? Some people enjoy Fincher flicks, some like The Farrelly Brothers.
Go to the movies and you can catch a comedy, a drama, a VFX laden blockbuster. Totally different kinds of films.
We all “get that.” Cinema’s over a century old.
But reality TV is a young form of entertainment, and people are still wrapping their heads around it.
Still Pretty New…
Mainstream “reality” is less than 20 years old. “Unscripted television” and “factual programming” have been a staple of cable TV for a lot longer. Still, when it comes to teaching us its vocabulary, reality TV can’t compete with decades of film.
Because of that, the differences in genres of unscripted entertainment are often lost on the casual viewer.
If you’re going to learn how to pitch a reality show, you don’t have the luxury of being a casual viewer. You need to recognize what makes different types of reality shows work, and use that to your advantage when pitching.
Unscripted Television Has Many Faces
- The First 48
- The Kardashians Franchise
- Deadly Recall
- Master Chef
- The Bachelor
- Ghost Inside My child
- Deadliest Catch
- Basketball Wives
- Hack My Life
- The Voice
- Unmasking a Killer
They’re wildly different, yet all fall in the unscripted television bucket. (Often referred to in a generic manner as “reality TV” – though we think unscripted television or factual programming are better terms for most kinds of shows.)
More times than we care to count, new producers pitching us concepts assume they know what how reality shows work, but haven’t watched any recently (or ever).
Don’t make that mistake.
The truth is few people take the time to understand unscripted television basics.
That’s why so many reality TV pitches fall apart…almost immediately.
Nothing bugs industry pros more than someone who acts like they know how to pitch a reality show, but makes a ton of rookie mistakes.
So, Don’t Do That
Better to own that you’re a rookie right off the bat than try to “fake it.” We never mind when an enthusiastic person makes a few minor pitch mistakes. It bothers us when people over-compensate and act like a know-it-all (when that’s clearly not the case).
Since you’re reading this article, you won’t make any of the most common pitch mistakes.
Instead of seeming like a “clueless newbie” you’ll come across as an up-and-coming producer who’s done their homework. And you’ll get people’s attention.
1b What Reality Show Pitches Do Networks Buy?
Want to break into the reality TV business?
Do your research. Understand what TV networks are programming.
Those pitching to us will often say something like, “My show would be great for MTV, Spike, OWN, and Oxygen. Could also work at Lifetime, Nickelodeon, ESPN, The Food Network. Oh, and History, TLC, Discovery, and The Game Show Network.”
You might laugh. But at least one or two pitches a week boldly state they would work on all these networks.
That doesn’t make your show look more attractive to production companies. We don’t suddenly think, “Ooh, you mean I could sell this at ALL those networks? Wow!”
Instead, you’ve just hoisted a big flag that says, “Newbie here.”
Different Networks Buy Different Kinds of Shows
TV networks pride themselves on being different from each other. And while a show that works on History might also work on Discovery, there’s no way that same show could work on Lifetime.
We go into this in depth in Top Secret, What TV Networks Buy, and Why. For now, understand that different networks buy different kinds of shows. How to pitch a reality show changes with each network you target.
1c Watching Television With a Critical Eye
If you want to sell reality shows, watching a lot of TV is a must.
Nothing is more disheartening than when people pitch us shows that would never be on TV today (or that are already on TV! That happens often and proves those pitching haven’t done their homework).
There’s no sense in spending time on pitches networks will never buy.
What often happens is people pitch what they “think” would sell, even if those shows have been out of style for a while.
Often Pitched Reality Shows that Have No Chance
For example, here are some often-pitched shows that aren’t going to launch your career or get producers excited about working with you.
- arts and craft shows
- kids’ shows
- bland health and fitness shows
- golf shows
- info-tainment shows
- old school, magazine style travel shows (i.e. “The 20 Best Hotels in St. Thomas”)
- cooking shows (as in cooking over the stove one ingredient at a time).
If you turn on the TV today and look at what most major broadcast and cable networks are airing, you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of shows from the list above.
Yet these kinds of shows are some of the most pitched by people just starting out in the reality TV industry.
Sure, some versions of these shows show up from time to time, but they’re not what most networks are programming today.
They’re also not the kind of pitches that get production companies and networks excited about working with new producers.
Too Unique? Maybe.
In general, if there’s nothing like the show you’re pitching on major cable or broadcast networks, there’s a good reason.
One of our goals with this guide is to save you from wasting time on reality show ideas that have very little chance of making it to air.
The best way to do that is to watch reality TV. All of it.
Before you ever start pitching shows, do your homework. Watch a lot of TV. Know what kinds of reality TV shows networks are making today.
Understanding the market you’re selling to shapes how to pitch a reality show, and what kinds of shows you pitch.
“My Pitch Is So Unique! It’s Not on TV Anywhere.”
We hear that a lot.
Guess what? There might be a very good reason your show isn’t on TV. For example, maybe networks don’t want that kind of programming.
Maybe you’d love to binge watch a hundred episodes of a basket weaving show. That doesn’t mean enough of the general public would be into it to justify putting it on a TV network.
Often times these shows are far too niche for the broad audience that looks to a TV network for programming.
That’s not to say there’s NO audience for these kinds of shows, they just don’t belong on television.
A lot of programming that is too niche, or is out of fashion on TV networks today (like step-by-step cooking shows and magazine-style reports) has moved on to YouTube, where it often does well. Don’t discount making a web series if there is no network for your passion project.
For more on this topic, check out:
1d The Five Magic Words of Pitching Reality TV
Know these five words and phrases before you pitch your reality show to anyone:
Use them right and we’ll know exactly what kind of show you’re pitching. As a big added bonus, you’ll sound like a total pro.
Here’s a quick guide to these “magic words” to get you up and running.
Reality TV Structure: Self-Contained or Arced?
In broad strokes, reality TV structure falls into two main categories: Self-contained and Arced.
An episode of a show stands on its own.
- Undercover Boss
- The First 48
- Bar Rescue
- Ghost Inside My Child (one of our own shows).
These shows are all self-contained, also referred to as “close-ended.” All parts of the story begin and end in one episode. You can play episodes in any order, it doesn’t matter. Self-contained shows are easy for networks to replay at any time.
(Pronounced ARKED) Continues storylines from one episode to the next. You can’t watch them out of order, it wouldn’t make sense.
- The Bachelor
- American Idol
- The Amazing Race
- Project Runway
- Top Chef
These are all arced.
Imagine watching episode 7 of a season of Survivor, then episode 2, then 9. That would be weird, right?
Arced reality TV shows are designed to be watched from beginning to end.
Arced shows require a greater “buy in” from reality TV audiences. This makes arced reality shows a bigger gamble for networks.
Someone misses the premiere. Will they really start watching four or five episodes down the line? Probably not.
This means TV networks have to spend big marketing dollars to make sure an audience shows up on night one. Not all networks can afford that. Plus, if no one shows up to watch, the networks’ wasted a lot of marketing time and resources.
So arced shows can be tough sells, especially to smaller networks.
Reality Television Type: Format, Docu, or Hybrid?
A format relies on tentpole moments that repeat every episode. A format can be either self-contained or arced.
Any show that has elements that repeat every episode is considered a format.
Myth Busters is a self-contained format. Survivor is an arced format.
In Myth Busters, the guys introduce an urban legend, then run experiments to see if it has merit.
On Survivor (though there are tweaks season to season) you see the same tentpole moments each episode:
- There’s a reward challenge
- An immunity challenge
- Tribal council
- The famous, “The tribe has spoken” tag as a torch is put out
Audiences recognize these repeatable elements in a formatted show, and come to expect them. If a viewer tunes in late, they can guess what part of the show they’re watching. (For example, if you see the immunity challenge, you know the episode is more than half-way over.)
To use our own reality TV series as examples:
- Scream Queens on VH1 was an arced format.
- Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne on A&E was a self-contained format.
Has its roots in documentary. More of a “follow real life as it happens” approach.
- The Kardashians follows the family through their every day lives.
- Duck Dynasty is a “docu-sitcom.”
- The Housewives franchise is a “docu-soap.”
- Hard Knocks on HBO is a true documentary series.
For the most part, there are no overt tentpole moments or repeatable format elements in these shows. There may be recurring events (dinners, parties, etc.), however, those repeatable elements don’t drive story in the same way every episode.
Also known as “hidden format.” This is the workhorse of reality TV. It’s like a follow-doc in that you feel like you’re following peoples lives. However, there is a “soft format” element that returns every episode.
- Dance Moms follows Abby Lee, her students, and their parents in a follow-doc fashion. On the surface, it would seem like a straight-up follow-doc series. But the “hidden format” element is that every episode leads up to a dance competition.
- In our own show Caged on MTV, we followed a group of young adults living in small town USA. They all happened to be connected to the local mixed martial arts scene. The format element was that every episode ended in a cage match.
How Does Your Show Fit In?
Look closely at your own reality show concept.
Is it an arced format? A docu-leaning hybrid?
We get hundreds of pitches through our submission portal. The ones that arrive using pro terminology snag our attention immediately.
So for instance, this description:
“I got these hilarious friends who hunt and play jokes on each other and make duck calls. They also have long beards. They argue a lot. Lots of great drama there. Funny too. Sound cool?”
…tells us much less than this log-line using reality TV lingo:
“I’m pitching you a self-contained docu-sitcom. It follows a family who’s made a fortune selling duck calls. They spend a lot of that money playing jokes on each other. Every episode follows some hilarious family drama, but in the end they all come together as one.”
For a spirited discussion and some cheesy Joke and Biagio moments, check out the podcast episode Pitch Reality TV Shows and Documentary Series with these Five Magic Words.
1e What Reality TV Pitches are New Producers Most Likely to Sell?
If you’re just starting out, avoid pitching arced competition shows. Unless you’ve got some incredible connections to a great piece of talent they’re just too hard to sell.
What Reality TV Pitches are New Producers Most Likely to Sell? Here You Go:
You’re going to have the easiest time pitching a self-contained hybrid. It should be a show built around strong, real-life characters and have a repeatable story element.
Good examples of this kind of pitch are family business reality shows that feature a “client of the week” like:
- Pawn Stars (more format-leaning).
- Flipping Out (more docu-leaning).
Next best bet for an aspiring producer or filmmaker?
A self-contained format built around a larger than life character. That person needs major credibility in whatever world the show lives.
Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Tabitha’s Salon Takeover are perfect examples.
Our own show Commercial Kings with Rhett and Link on IFC is another. (Each episode they wrote and directed wild local commercials for small businesses.)
You can’t pitch those formats without Gordon or Tabitha, or Rhett and Link, because we’ve all heard them a hundred times. There’s really nothing new to the one-liners for those shows.
“We’re going to give really bad restaurant kitchens a makeover” sounds lame. But walk in with Gordon Ramsay and you have a hit.
You don’t have to attach someone who is already famous, by the way. Networks love new, fresh faces. But the people you pitch have to be experts at what they do. Plus, they have to be as good as or better than the characters already on TV right now.
It’s totally doable for a new producer to find someone like this (now that you know what you’re looking for).
Here’s a great guide to help you recognize great reality TV characters.
Do You Have to Have Talent In Mind Before Pitching?
It’s not a good idea to pitch reality concepts if you don’t have something or someone real attached.
It’s not a good idea to pitch reality concepts if you don’t have something or someone real attached.
2 Preparing to Pitch Reality Shows
In section 2, Preparing to Pitch Reality Shows, we’ll cover how to:
- Understand what makes for a good reality pitch
- Avoid bad internet advice
- Make yourself valuable in unscripted television
- Create reality TV pitch materials
- Protect your reality show concepts
- Build your reality TV career
Most aspiring producers waste hours, days, or even weeks preparing reality TV concepts that will never sell.
After reading this section, you’ll know how to avoid these giant pot holes in the road to reality TV success.
2a Reality TV Ideas, A.K.A. What Are You Actually Pitching?
Okay, we’re about to burst a lot of bubbles out there. Let’s rip off the band-aid and get it done.
You don’t just create a reality TV pitch on a piece of paper, send if off to Mr. or Ms. Important, and make a bundle of money.
Pitching reality TV means pitching something real that you have access to film.
Reality TV ideas are a dime a dozen, and ideas, in and of themselves, are pretty much worthless. Everybody has one. Many are identical or very similar to each other.
Even if you take that idea and turn it into a fleshed out treatment, it’s still just a glorified reality TV idea. There’s no “real life” substance to it.
Which means there’s an overwhelming number of people (who pitch to us every day) convinced that pitching:
- American Idol for Bartenders/Rappers/Animal Trainers/You Name It
- Survivor set in the Arctic/On the Ocean/In Space/Wherever
- Cash Cab on a Train/Boat/Bus/Military Transport
…are worthy of paper pitches that can be five to fifty (!) pages in length.
Is That You?
If you’re an aspiring producer guilty of “creating” these kinds of shows, it’s not your fault.
There has long been a fallacy in Hollywood that “one big idea” can propel you to riches. It’s like a great fairy tale told over and over again.
Many people pitch reality shows as if they are playing the lottery (usually with the same results). “Here’s an idea, I’ll take a shot at the big time.”
A big part of this misconception is due to some…
2b Bad Web Advice
The web is a mixed bag. There’s some “okay” advice out there, but a lot of it is either:
- Out of date.
- Written by people who’ve never actually sold a reality TV show.
- Irrelevant or useless for aspiring, unestablished reality TV producers.
Here’s what’s wrong with what’s out there:
A LOT of the results focus on writing elaborate treatments. These articles give the impression that a “solid write up” and a friendly letter could launch your career.
One site that has some otherwise nice info blows it big time with this quote:
“Pitching a reality TV idea is as simple as communicating a Title, Logline, and Synopsis (format). This applies to all formats of reality-based ideas.”
Someone please sound the Family Feud buzzer as long and loud as possible.
The real shame here is that talented writers and creatives take advice like this and waste hours writing useless paper. (Especially since similar advice about reality TV treatments clutters sites all over the web.)
It’s a writing-centric approach that stems from scripted TV. After all, in the scripted world, written treatments are very important.
But people who give this advice to aspiring reality TV producers don’t understand this simple fact:
New producers and undiscovered writers don’t bang out the next Amazing Race in five pages and two lattes at Starbucks.
Undiscovered writers don’t bang out the next Amazing Race in five pages and two lattes at Starbucks.
Good Web Advice
One man you can trust is Troy Devolld, who literally wrote the book on structuring reality TV. Be sure to see Troy’s site for some great info, and pick up his book when you get a chance.
2c Ideas versus Execution
Selling a reality show is never about the idea itself…it’s about the execution of the idea — and whether you can get it done.
Being able to “make it happen” is FAR more important than any elaborate write-up you can put together.
Reality TV: Ideas vs Execution Example:
You’ve got a music show concept you think is on par with The Voice.
You planned out an entire season, sample episodes, the whole enchilada. (After all, you read how to do it in one of those web posts that made it seem easy.)
- Ten awesome pages filled with exciting format.
- Surprising twists and turns.
- Even a 360 marketing approach guaranteed to blow Hollywood’s mind.
No one cares.
Unless you’ve got CeeLo Green judging and a record company putting up a prize, you don’t have a show.
Getting big names on board and someone to offer a phenomenal prize — well, that’s the hard part. That’s what producing a large-scale, network level reality show is all about.
It’s cutting through the legal red tape, closing the big deals, and getting stars to say “yes” that matters.
That’s what makes these giant blockbuster TV shows happen. That’s what producing is all about: putting together a great package (more on that below).
It’s NOT about the write up any of us create in a vacuum somewhere. (Which will get re-thought and re-formatted a million times by the network anyway.)
Don’t worry. None of this means new producers can’t break into the business.
On the contrary, by following tips that come later in this guide, you can up your chances of success quite a bit.
2d You Can’t Pitch What You Don’t Have
Just starting out? Chances are you have no access to music superstars, big name talent, or the Hollywood clout to make headline deals.
No power agent in your corner, no weekend parties at Clooney’s Italian villa.
So why underline that by pitching the next “Big Celebrity Reality Show” or some other idea that requires all the might of showbiz to produce?
We get piles of pitches that have “creative” celebrity hooks. But the people pitching them have never met a celebrity in their lives.
By the way, we’ve worked on shows with celebrities ourselves. They’re hard to cast.
We’re repped by CAA, a pretty big agency. Even with their help and giant networks on board, it’s not easy to get stars to say “yes.”
So don’t fall in this trap of pitching shows driven by celebrity. You might think that makes your idea feel “special.” It doesn’t.
It comes down to this:
You can’t pitch what you don’t have access to film
We’ve actually been pitched a reality show set at The White House several times. Unfortunately, no one pitching that particular concept had ever checked with P.O.T.U.S. first.
This is why trying to “create” these types of reality show pitches when you’re just starting out is a total waste of time.
We’re hammering on this point because it’s where the vast majority of pitches we receive go wrong.
What To Do Instead?
In the next section we’ll give you the secret of how to turn things around. Do this one thing and entertainment professionals will take you seriously.
2e Make Yourself Valuable
Step back and ask yourself how you can bring more to your pitch than just words on paper.
What can you add to your idea so that it comes alive?
Do you have access to:
- Some interesting people?
- An exciting, visual world?
- A book author?
- An edgy new business that’s taking your city by storm?
- Maybe you know about an amazing underground sub-culture. Could you film it? (Like Travis Bible and Steve Harris did after they first pitched us a log-line that became MTV’s CAGED.)
- Perhaps you’ve discovered a shocking world never before seen on TV. (Like Suzanne Stratford did when she brought us parents with a problem. Their children remembered living and dying in past lives. That became multiple seasons of Ghost Inside My Child.)
- You could be friends with the next Super Nanny or Gordon Ramsay. Can you convince them to make a show? (Our friend Andrew Mayne is an amazing magician. We sold a reality TV series to A&E starring him.)
Fast Company’s FastCoCreate.com did a behind-the-scenes piece on producing that show. See this article from Susan Karlin on making Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne.)
Notice in all three of these examples, there was something more to the pitch than just words on paper.
Real people, real lives, and real stories were already along for the ride.
What Else Makes You Valuable?
Filmmaking skills of any kind.
Are you a great shooter? Editor? A documentarian with several projects under your belt? Hard-core YouTuber? Terrific story teller?
Wanna know what gets us excited? When a talented filmmaker walks in and says, “I found these amazing real-life characters and put them on tape.” (More on pitch tapes and sizzle reels below. Tip – don’t spend a lot of money on them. Ever.)
Now, you don’t necessarily have to be a filmmaker to pitch reality shows, but it’s a nice bonus, and always gets our interest.
Do this one thing and entertainment professionals will take you seriously: make yourself valuable.
2f Pitching Reality TV: Five Ways to Make Yourself Valuable
Here’s a simple list to get you thinking about how to add value to your pitches.
Find a Great Real Life Character
Provide access to a unique world
Get the rights to an exciting property (like a book or a podcast).
Bring useful filmmaking skills to the project.
Have a great personality.
The most important part of your reality pitch is the real assets you bring to it. Check off whatever you can from the above list.
The reason is that when you find real-world assets to go along with your pitch you have more than an idea.
You have the beginning of a “package.” More on “packaging things up” in our next section…
The most important part of your reality pitch is the real assets you bring to it.
Helpful Links on Adding Value to Your Reality Show Pitches
Adding value by finding great real life people? Check out 6 Must Have Traits of Unscripted TV Characters
Want to approach a book author, business owner, or any other entity about developing a show around them? Be sure to check out How to Turn a Book, or Any Property, into a TV Show.
We talked about five ways to make yourself valuable (and more) with the awesome Stephanie Palmer over at Good In a Room.
(By the way, Good in a Room is an amazing site to help you do better in Hollywood pitch meetings, especially if you’re also a screenwriter. Highly recommended.)
2g All About Your Reality TV Pitch Package
The number one thing you are pitching is a package — not an idea.
A “package” consists of all the creative and real-world elements that come together in your reality TV or documentary series pitch.
Creative assets are your pitch materials (see more below).
Real-world elements are things like celebrities, books, businesses, families, or real people attached to your project.
Don’t freak out if you’re thinking you have no access to anything of value.
It doesn’t mean that if you live in the middle of nowhere you have no chance of putting together a great, pitch-able package.
In fact, let’s say you live somewhere in middle America. Maybe you discover a terrific new fashion boutique. It’s run by sassy 20 somethings you think could play well on Bravo, MTV, or Netflix.
The first step in putting together a pitch package could be a short tape you make yourself (doesn’t have to be perfect).
What Goes in Your Initial Short Tape?
That tape should do a few things:
- Show off the personalities of the young ladies you discovered.
- Give us a sense of their business.
- Hint at the kinds of stories we’d see each episode.
Additionally put together some photos, and a SHORT write up of how the show would work.
Now you’ve got a conversation starter. With this big piece of the puzzle, you’ve got something reality TV industry pros can take a look at.
This Will Instantly Set Your Reality TV Pitch Apart. Why?
Here’s how most other people would pitch the above show:
“I have a write up of a reality TV idea here. What we’re gonna do is go find some interesting fashion businesses, and look for fun young women to follow around. It’s gonna be great! What do you think?”
Here’s the conversation you’ll be having instead:
“I found these terrific girls who started a new fashion boutique that caters to high-end prom dresses. They have great personalities which you can clearly see on this quick tape I put together. I also brought a short write-up about what they do, including a few sample story lines. I see it as a self-contained hybrid. We follow the drama of the boutique and the owners lives, but there’s a new prom dress delivered each episode.”
Congrats. Your pitch is officially better than 80-90% of what we hear from people who pitch to us.
2h Reality TV Pitch Materials
In the last section we mentioned the idea of “shooting tape.” Far and away, the best way to get producers and networks excited is to walk in with a great video.
The best way to get producers and networks excited is to walk in with a great video.
If you only spent your time on one thing, it should be making a terrific tape for your reality show idea.
That said, DON’T GO BROKE.
There’s no good reason to spend thousands of dollars on a pitch tape or sizzle reel. It’s not necessary to hire a company who specializes in “sizzle reels.”
If a production company is excited about your project, they will work with you to make a pitch tape or sizzle reel for your project at no cost to you. They may require your time, but never your money.
You certainly shouldn’t waste months of time putting a sizzle reel together. That’s not how to pitch a reality show, either.
Here’s the short list of things you want to have together to pitch any kind of reality show:
Great Tape (2 to 5 minutes, shorter is better).
- On the down-and-dirty side, your pitch tape should at least show off your great characters and what they do. Doesn’t have to be perfect. We’ve sold shows using Skype footage taped off of a computer screen. After all, if your characters don’t pop on Skype, they won’t pop when you put a $20,000 camera in their face, either.
- On the high-end side, your tape should feel like a television promo for the main networks that make sense for your reality show pitch. Go to their websites and watch promos for new shows. Think of your tape as having that kind of energy, but longer interviews.
- You can also consider creating a ripomatic – an industry term for borrowing footage from other projects and re-editing it to present your new vision. While this is very commonly done in the entertainment industry, and has sold many shows, it’s important to keep copyright laws in mind. Technically, you need permission to use any borrowed footage (so no posting your ripomatics to public websites!)
(1 or 2 pages max.)
No one’s going to read it at first. Probably won’t even give it a glance. Just make sure it’s a super tight, fun read. If people want more, they’ll ask you for it, and you can give them exactly what they need.
Anything Extra That Brings Your Reality TV Show to Life.
- If you were pitching Duck Dynasty, give the people in your meeting a duck call. It’s fun and shows what these guys built their fortune on.
- Going out with a gold prospecting show? Might be cool to bring some real gold and fool’s gold to the meeting. See if the exec can guess which is which.
- Selling a magic show? Make sure your magician’s in the meeting with some great tricks ready to go. (Andrew did a whole routine for A&E execs after we showed them our pitch tape.)
Should You Shoot Your Own Reality TV Pilot?
You should NEVER film a full TV pilot if your intention is to sell a show. The only reason to produce a full pilot is because you can learn a lot doing it. But if selling a show is your end goal, a full pilot doesn’t help you (and usually hurts you.)
We break it all down in this series of posts: Should I Produce My Own Reality TV Pilot?
A few helpful resources related to this section:
Check out What Goes In a Pitch Tape? Should You Make One? to learn more about pitch tapes and sizzle reels.
We discuss editing tapes that feel like TV promos in Steal This Editing Secret.
Here’s exactly what we like to see in reality TV and documentary series paper pitches (and it’s probably a lot less than you think you need).
2i How To Protect Your Reality Idea While Building Your Career
Many aspiring producers and filmmakers freak out about pitching their ideas. Why?
Because they think those ideas will get stolen.
Screenwriter John August’s Blog has a great post about this topic, and we followed up with Did My Idea Get Stolen? Focus on This Instead.
Please understand we are not lawyers and are not offering reality TV legal advice.
Our goal with this section is to explain the day to day reality of how our business works, especially when it comes to “ideas.”
We hope these insights will give you a more practical approach to protecting yourself, while at the same time increasing your value to your own pitches.
When in doubt, always consult a lawyer.
Similar Reality Shows On TV at the Same Time
First of all, consider this: Wife Swap and Trading Spouses. Pretty much the same show, right? Subtle differences, but essentially the same idea. They were on the air, at the same time, on two different networks.
One of our mentors went around all over town pitching “Survivor set in the business world.” Instead of getting voted off the island, people would get fired. No one bought it. Mark Burnett sold the same idea, called The Apprentice, with Donald Trump a few months later.
Well, as you now know, it’s not about the idea. It’s about the execution of the idea.
Our old mentor was pitching words on paper. Burnett was pitching Donald Trump hiring somebody for a dream job. See the difference?
When people freak out about their idea getting stolen they’re missing the big picture.
We go into great detail on this subject in Why Ideas Aren’t Enough, and the podcast ep that follows it up, Unscripted TV Success Secret.
Bottom line — professionals don’t want to steal your idea. We have enough of our own ideas to worry about. But if all you’re pitching is words on paper, your reality TV pitch is not going to be that unique. Chances are someone else is pitching (or has pitched) the same thing.
Remember, Survivor premiered in 2000. Amazing Race in 2001. American Idol in 2002.
Well over a decade for each of those shows to seep into our brains.
Over those years someone has already pitched permutations of every “big idea.”
In fact, at RealScreen a few years back we visited a panel with network executives. The moderator asked if they’d received any truly unique ideas in the last year.
Every executive said “no.”
Every one of them.
Over the course of a year, a handful of top network executives had not seen a single idea that was truly original.
It’s all been pitched.
Again, the only thing that makes your show different is how it’s packaged up. The base idea? It’s been around.
So what’s the lesson here?
The best way to make yourself valuable to a pitch is also the best way to protect yourself:
Build your reality pitch around someone or something real.
Fifty other people might pitch reality shows about restaurant makeovers. Only you are pitching a show following the wild restaurateur you connected with.
Your good relationship with the talent or assets you bring to a project protects you. So do your own filmmaking abilities. That’s what makes you valuable.
Those things are worth far more than any service you pay to “prove” you wrote something down on a piece of paper. (Use those services if they make you feel better, but be real about what you’re trying to “protect.”)
Now, that’s our opinion. You need to do what’s right for you, but we believe worrying about ideas getting stolen is a waste of time.
When it comes time to make a deal (after a production company or network is interested in your show), that’s different. You should have an entertainment attorney look things over.
Just please…for heaven’s sake…hire a real entertainment attorney who specializes in unscripted television, documentary series, and reality TV.
Do NOT hire a local general practice lawyer who’s never worked in reality TV.
Nothing is more disheartening than having a deal fall apart because of an inexperienced attorney. They have no idea how the reality TV business works, what to ask for, or what’s standard practice in our industry.
3 Where and How to Pitch a Reality Show
In section 3, “Where and How to Pitch a Reality Show” we share:
- Overcoming challenges of pitching reality TV shows early in your career
- What a “soft pitch” is and when to use one
- What happens when a reality TV network says, “I want your show.”
- Pitfalls of pitching directly to networks
- How we broke into the unscripted television industry (you can take the same steps)
- How production companies can speed up your TV career plans
Okay, so you’ve taken our advice. You’ve stopped focusing on simple reality TV ideas and started thinking about your reality TV pitch package.
You’ve found some amazing real-life characters, and put them on tape (whether a rough video or elaborate promo).
You’ve pulled some photos, written up a short treatment, and are aching to pitch your reality TV package.
And you don’t know anyone in the TV industry. Now what?
3a Pitching Reality Shows Early in Your Career
Back in the day when VHS was still a thing and there was no Twitter or Facebook, the two of us, Joke and Biagio, had no one to pitch to. (That’s about the same time our diet consisted almost exclusively of Ramen noodles.)
So we told a lot of white lies (more like stretching the truth). Snuck into some places where we shouldn’t have been allowed. Accidentally fooled a former president of NBC into giving us a job.
It all turned out okay because we worked our butts off and made sure we delivered on the big promises we made.
Today’s World Is Different.
You’re not going to lie your way into a production company or a big agency. (Social media and the web have pretty much killed that. Too easy to find out who you really are!)
So what are your options?
3b Should You Ever Pay to Pitch?
The common way new producers and filmmakers pitch their projects is at pitch pits, classes, and seminars.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with going to these types of events. You just have to prepare to do your best, and make sure you get your money’s worth.
The problem with paying to pitch is that it’s like speed dating. The people hearing the pitches are slammed with one meeting after the next. By the end, they’re bleary-eyed, and even good projects can be forgotten.
We’ve Been on Both Sides of the “Speed Pitch” Table
At times it can be disheartening.
When you’re pitching it’s fast and furious and exciting in the moment. Later, when you don’t hear anything back, it’s frustrating.
Receiving pitches at a pitch pit is also hard. There’s no real time to course-correct somebody if their pitch is off. Certainly no real time to build a relationship. Later, it’s hard to remember who exactly pitched what.
So it’s not ideal for people on either side of the table. Still, there are success stories that com out of pitch pits, so we’d never say, “don’t do it.” Just know what you’re getting into.
Our solution was to start this site, Producing Unscripted. It allows you to pitch to us here for free, instead of paying to pitch to us at a seminar somewhere. It also gives us time to really think about a pitch before deciding if we can be helpful. You can access our free members only pitch-portal by signing up for our newsletter and following the directions.
3c The Soft Pitch
NOTE: Only “soft pitch” to those buyers and sellers with whom you have a relationship.That means network execs and production companies you know well.
Do not soft pitch agents, managers, or the guy who does craft service on Master Chef. They won’t be helpful in this stage.
You can soft pitch us through our portal (learn how to pitch to us here), but please read this entire section before you do, or check out our podcast episode Soft Pitch Blueprint.
A soft pitch is probably different than what you imagine.
Most soft pitches we get are no more than the seed of an idea. As you’re about to see, a simple idea never qualifies as a soft pitch.
What Is A Soft Pitch
A soft pitch is a conversation about a project you’re thinking of investing more time into.
A soft pitch works best after you’ve discovered a great asset to build your show around, but before you film with them.
Why Give a Soft Pitch?
The reason you soft pitch is to gather important information. You want to find out if there’s any reason that your show would be impossible to sell.
For instance, you might have discovered great characters in a world that recently bombed on TV — no one will buy that. (Has happened to us more than once.)
Or your idea might be a M.O.P. (Most Often Pitched.) For instance, right now ghost hunting shows are a M.O.P. (There are so many being pitched that networks sent out word they don’t want to see them right now. It would take some pretty amazing ghost hunters to overcome this issue.)
Soft Pitches: Before and After
Here are some examples of good and bad soft pitches:
“We’re going to travel the country and find real life witches. We’re not just looking in the spookiest corners, but in every day places, too. We’ll even see that witches are normal people. How’s that sound?”
“I discovered these young witches who run a shop selling witchcraft products. They’re up for doing a show. Here are some photos I pulled off Facebook. Would you like to see some tape?”
“How about an extreme survival show starring people who insist on living like cave men? What do you think?”
“I met this crazy survival dude who insists on living naked and eating only what he kills. But he lives the middle of New York City. Here’s a YouTube video of a news story done on him. Should I put together some more tape?”
“What about a show that follows a public defender working gang crimes?”
“My brother-in-law is a public defender specializing in gang-related crime. Here’s a letter saying we have permission to film with him and his department, and a list of cases he’s working on. What do you think?”
Notice how the bad soft pitches are nothing more than ideas, whereas the good versions have real people and places in mind.
This is a common mistake
Fact is most soft pitches we get are like this:
- “How about a show in an Italian restaurant?”
- “I want to make a weight loss show that’s really, really real.”
- “We get a bunch of guys who are friends and follow them from city to city doing interesting things.”
- “It’s a cooking show about healthy food that tastes great.”
- “A reality show set at The White House — I’m sure if we can get a network on board we can make this happen.”
Throwing out a bunch of reality TV ideas to see what happens is not soft pitching — it’s a rookie mistake.
It’s definitely NOT how to pitch a reality show.
So instead base your soft pitch on something or someone you’ve already connected with. By doing so you instantly make yourself valuable. After all, you’ve made a discovery and connection with something that might be a show (way better than a simple idea).
Plus, it allows us (or other pros) to give you better advice on how to proceed. No matter how great the characters or the world you discover, there’s no sense spending all your resources packaging it up if no TV network wants it.
3d What Happens When A Network Wants Your Reality TV Show?
Are you a third-party approved reality TV production company (like us?) Or are you teamed up with a production company?
Then the network usually starts a multi-step deal, under the umbrella of a “development phase.”
Development can involve any one or several of the following stages.
There can be a lot of overlap between these phases as well. But here’s a general breakdown of the steps we go through once a network is interested.
The network likes the show in general, but wants to develop a more specific take for their air. This phase could involve delivering:
- series budgets
- a series bible (document explaining how a show works).
Casting periods can exist for several kinds of shows.
For instance, say your show is a self-contained format built around a big character, like Kitchen Nightmares. Then you would need to find potential kitchens to go in and fix.
If you’re doing a big competition show you might have to find the contestants before the show gets picked up.
On our show Scream Queens, for instance, casting the competing actresses was crucial to the show’s pick-up.
Reality TV Presentation Tape
Non-Airing Reality TV Pilot
Full length reality TV pilot. About 22 minutes for a half hour show. About 44 minutes for an hour show.
Since it’s non-airing, you can skip expensive “quality control.” (Broadcast standard color correction and sound mixing. Though you should still do what you can in-house to make your pilot look and sound great.)
An Airable Documentary Series or Reality TV Pilot
If all of the above goes right, you get…
A Series Order
Yay! You made it. Your reality TV pitch is now a reality television series.
And now the excitement really begins.
What If You’re Not Third Party Approved?
Then the network will pair you with a third party approved reality TV show company.
Sometimes, they’ll introduce you to several, and let you choose which one you like the best. Sometimes they’ll pair you with just one company and say, “go.”
For example, many networks bring us shows that producers have pitched to them.
Recently, we’ve been brought shows by VH1, Oxygen, MTV, and Lifetime.
All are in various stages of the “road to series” cycle. Some will make it all the way, some won’t. That’s how the game works.
It took us a long time to get to the point where networks would also bring projects directly to us (as opposed to us always pitching them).
3f Will Networks Meet With You?
If you’re a new producer and don’t have an agent, probably not.
If you do pay to pitch at a seminar or pitch fest, you might be pitching to lower-level execs. They may or may not have the power to move your show up the ladder. However, that is one way to get a network “face to face.”
Also, if you pitch to a network first, you might have less choice over which production company you end up with. (Network politics can be crazy.)
3g The Problem With Pitching to Networks Directly
If you don’t have an agent and can’t just pick up the phone and get a network on the line, your options are limited. You’ll be “hacking” your way into whatever meeting you can manage to land.
So say you get a meeting with someone at History, but your show is also right for Discovery, NatGeo, and Spike.
You don’t have anyone in your corner to call those networks and make sure they’re also seeing your reality show pitch at the same time.
This eliminates any chance that there will be a competitive bidding situation on your show.
It also means the single network you met with won’t be in a hurry to get back to you. They know you’re not pitching anywhere else.
Finally, all things being equal, you’re at a disadvantage. Networks choose projects from established production companies over pitches from new producers.
This was the dilemma we faced when we were starting out.
3h How We Broke In
What finally opened the doors for us was teaming up with bigger reality television production companies we trusted to take care of us.
Some production companies want you involved in the production of the show. Some don’t.
We wanted to team up with those reality TV production companies who would let us work on the shows, learn, and grow. We were lucky enough to do that.
That’s how we got to where we are today:
- TV Shows On Air
- A Powerhouse Agent
- Relationships with networks who both buy our shows and bring us shows
Clearly, we benefited from teaming up with seasoned professionals along the way.
It’s good for everyone.
3i Benefits of Pitching to a Production Company First
Are you looking to build your career, stay involved with your show as much as possible, or learn the unscripted TV business from the inside out?
Nothing beats teaming up with an established production company who is willing to mentor you along. (Again, that’s how we came up.)
True, not every production company is the same, and we wouldn’t want to represent that. But speaking for us, a big part of the reason we team up with aspiring producers on shows is because we like the people pitching to us.
We love sharing the thrill and excitement of someone’s first show with them. (As well as being there to console them during the times things inevitably go wrong.)
Every time we team up with an aspiring producer, our goal is for them to learn as much as possible, and feel that their creative input is valued along the way.
Why Do We Care?
It’s not just that we’re “great people” (though we try!) Of course, we get something out of doing this, too.
When producers have a good experience with us, they pitch us more shows. Plus, they tell other aspiring producers we’re great to work with, and that brings even more potential shows our way.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
When you consider that we’re making ourselves so easy to find on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube you can bet we want to protect our reputation.
Our goal is always to be fair, easy to work with, and an open book about the process of making a TV show.
So at Joke Productions, it’s a simple conversation when we do team up with someone who pitches us.
We want you to be as involved in the production of your show as you want to be. We want you to take on as much responsibility as your experience allows.
You should learn a lot, enjoy the process, and come out the other side a much better and more experienced producer, able to handle even more responsibility on your next show.
If you have a look at our testimonials page, we think you’ll see that we live up to that statement.
4 Pitch Your Ideas To Us
In section 4, “Pitch Your Ideas To Us” we discuss:
- The value of mentorship
- Working on the shows you pitch
- What happens if you don’t want to work on your reality shows
- How to pitch yourself to star in your own reality show
We started this outreach so aspiring producers had a legitimate place to pitch their reality TV concepts without having to lie to people or pay to pitch.
We remember how impossible it was to get our pitches heard. But why did it have to be so hard? We were talented back then.
If we could find the Joke and Biagio of ten years ago walking around today, we’d snap them up in a heartbeat.
That’s why we love discovering talented new producers.
Maybe you’re one of them.
4a We Believe in Mentorship
The reason we started Producing Unscripted is to teach you the right way to create, pitch, sell, and make unscripted television, documentary series, and reality TV shows, and to encourage you to pitch to us.
No, we won’t team up with everyone who pitches to us. And not everyone who reads this will want to pitch to us.
When things do work out, we’ll be working in hand with those new producers. “How to Pitch a Reality Show” is just the beginning of the journey. We like to help aspiring producers build their careers.
Over the years we were lucky to have had great mentors. They were the rare producers secure enough in their own talent to share their knowledge.
Working with them was invaluable. Those experiences allowed us to launch our own production company. Today, those mentors are still in business, making plenty of TV shows. We’re thrilled to be their colleagues in the unscripted television industry.
It’s their example we’d like to follow as we help new producers come into their own.
4b What if You Don’t Want to Work On Reality Shows You Pitch?
This guide, “How to Pitch a Reality Show” is aimed at people who want to pitch and also make reality TV shows and documentary series.
But not everyone wants a full-time career in reality TV. Some people want to take a credit and a small check and keep on living their lives.
We discuss how to do that in 5 Ways You Can Break Into Unscripted Television. You guessed it — five different ways to team up with us, some of which are part-time.
4c How to Get Your Own Reality Show
What if you want to star in your own reality show?
Are you an expert in an unusual field?
Do you have a TV friendly life packed with drama, comedy, action, adventure? (Or any other descriptive word that would make your life a TV show?)
Do you think you’re the next Gordon Ramsay, or that your family is even better TV than the Kardashians?
Good news: If you want to be in front of the camera, not behind it, no one expects you to put together a pitch tape.
To pitch to us, just sign up for our newsletter, and follow the instructions on how to pitch us a show. When you get to the submission portal, at some point you’ll get a question. “Are you submitting as a Producer (behind the camera) or Talent (in front of the camera)?” Choose Talent.
Submit links to some short video clips telling us about you, your family and/or business. Make sure to tell us why you think you’d be great TV. (If you post these on YouTube, be sure to make it either a Public video or Unlisted video, not a Private video.)
These can be shot on any camera that’s handy, including your mobile phone or web cam. Just make sure we can see and hear you.
You can still follow our tips on putting together your short paper pitch, but your short videos are what matter most.
What Have You Learned About How to Pitch a Reality Show?
Okay, you’re over 9000 words into this article…good for you!
It’s a lot to process, we know. But making it this far has put you miles ahead of most who pitch to us and other industry professionals.
15 Things to Remember about How to Pitch a Reality Show
In a nutshell, here’s what you now know about how to pitch a reality show
- Watch TV so you understand what kind of reality show you’re pitching.
- Use the Five Magic Words of Pitching Reality TV.
- Starting out? You want to pitch a self-contained hybrid or self-contained format built around a real person or people.
- Avoid pitching arced competition. Too hard unless you have major connections to some incredible talent and assets.
- Ideas are never enough, you always have to attach someone or something real that you have access to film.
- Ditch all that bad advice from the web that tells you to waste time writing in-depth treatments. They will never make it to air the way your write them up anyway (the network will change it all).
- You can’t pitch what you don’t have, so no more shows set at The White House (unless the First Lady and her husband are on board).
- Make yourself valuable by bringing assets and filmmaking skills to the table.
- You’re never pitching a simple reality idea, you’re always pitching a reality television package.
- Your most useful pitch material is great tape. Everything else is secondary.
- The best time to soft pitch is after you discover a great reality TV asset and before you decide to film. If you’re going to soft pitch a reality TV idea, it has to be based on something real you’ve already found.
- That said, if you’re just starting out, you might as well make some great tape anyway. You’re going to need the practice.
- The best way to protect your idea is also the best way to make yourself valuable. Attach something real to your reality TV project and forget about leaning on “paper” so much.
- Pitch pits and seminars are places you can pay to pitch your projects…
- But remember, you can pitch your shows to us for free – and we will seriously consider them.
5 Step Action Plan: Pitch a Reality Show The Smart Way
- Find a real person, place, or thing to attach to your show
- Develop that concept into a self-contained hybrid or self-contained format
- Shoot some video to give a sense of the characters and their world
- Write a short paper pitch to describe how the show works
- Team up with a production company (like ours) and begin building your career.
7 Steps: How to Pitch a Reality Show to Us
Check out this seven step cheat sheet on how to pitch a reality show to us.
That’s a Wrap
Congratulations! We know this was a long guide, and you’ve made it to the end.
You now have a great understanding of how to pitch a reality show the smart way, and how to greatly increase your odds of standing out from the crowd.
We hope you enjoyed reading “How to Pitch a Reality Show” and we’d love to get to work together with you soon.
If you enjoyed this guide, would you do us a favor? Click to tweet this:
This is the ultimate guide on how to pitch a reality show:
Joke and Biagio
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How to Sell your TV show Idea online: A List of 14 Companies
Do you know you can actually contribute to creating the next blockbuster show with your script writing skills? As a creative writer you can sell your TV show idea and scripts online. There are a lot production companies out there that are willing to pay money for a show idea that you just thought of. You don’t have to be acquainted with Hollywood or Netflix to make that happen.
If you have a real creative and original idea for a TV show, series, reality show, or any other visual content, you can try your luck at a few production companies that welcome pitches from public. You could even make money, a handsome amount probably.
Below, we discuss some production companies where you can pitch your show ideas. Make sure you have all the material you need before you apply.
How can I pitch a TV show Idea online?
You would be surprised to know the number of opportunities that exist on the Internet. There’s a huge list of companies that are actively looking for such ideas and scripts that you can pitch within a few minutes. However, you need to make sure that your Idea or script is organized in a TV show bible template.
Once your template is ready, you need to know which production company would be the most suitable for it. Many international and local organizations are looking for such ideas. If yours clicks, who knows it could be the next big TV show on Netflix or Amazon.
List of Companies to Pitch your TV show Idea and Script
Here’s a list of production companies worldwide that accept online submissions for TV show ideas and scripts:
Megalomedia is a small TV show company that is owned and created by a true megalomaniac. It’s passionate about creating great TV shows that inspire and give good entertainment.
The company has created some shows that have gained a lot of audiences such as “my 600lb life”: a reality show, “Shipping Wars” and “Marshal Law”. It has offices located in Texas, U.S., and London.
BBC Writers’ Room
BBC Writers Room offers opportunities for both experienced and new writers to work for BBC and create scripts for a variety of TV shows. The colossal company has several opportunities for scriptwriters.
There are categories of drama, comedy, children’s shows, and much more. Submission for scripts is not open all the time. In fact, there are submission windows with deadlines that are present on the opportunities page of the writer’s room. The window is usually open twice a year in December/January for drama scripts and March/April for comedy scripts. Any writer over the age of 16 and under 30 can apply.
Writer’s room accepts only those scripts which are complete and show potential. The company takes its writing standards very seriously does not entertain sub-standard writing. As a writer you have to make sure your script is complete and according to the format specified by BBC. Once the script is submitted, it will be analyzed by a group of experts.
Pie Town is a reality show production company located in California, US. It has produced some of the most popular reality shows like House Hunters, Downsized, Joan Knows Best, Chef and the City, and many more.
It has been operating since 1996 and is always looking for talented individuals that have great ideas for reality TV shows. Writers can submit their proposal by clicking on the “pitch us” tab. You will be required to read the terms and conditions first before you can proceed to your submission. Once you have read the terms, you will be required to fill in your details and attach your submission.
Rock Shrimp is a production company started by celebrity chef Bobby Flay and executive producer Kim Martin. The company specializes in food, lifestyle, and documentary.
They have produced series Emmy and James, TV commercials, and branded digital content. If you have a good idea for any of the categories offered by Rock Shrimp, you can pitch it and be rewarded.
Gass Productions is a TV production, outside broadcast, and branded content production company situated in Kent, UK. They have worked with big brands and huge live events around the world. The company has supplied production services to TV broadcasters such as BBC, Discovery, MTV, and PBS.
Their work is based on storytelling and factual events. Gass Productions welcome ideas from any talented individuals. To submit your idea, go to the “pitch a TV Idea” tab situated on the top bar of the web page. You will be required to fill in your personal details and then add your submission.
The production house only produces factual and documentary categories. Make sure your content is relevant to that. You can submit factual entertainment, 60-90-minute documentary, 6-12 episode factual series, or any interesting, thought-provoking program.
Take 3 Talent
Take 3 Talent is a talent hunt agency in New York and Los Angeles. They represent children, teens, and adults for films, commercials, etc.
Take 3 offers opportunities to submit TV show ideas, comedy, and book projects as well. The department is led by Emmy award-winning producer Dave Marken and offers opportunities for a TV show idea in a variety of categories.
Shaky Alibi Productions
Shaky Alibi Productions is a reality show based production company that caters to different media platforms like feature films, broadcast television, internet streaming, and mobile entertainment platforms.
The company has been nominated for many awards for its shows. If you are interested in pitching your idea to the production, you can go to the “pitch us” tab on the top bar of the web page. Here you will be required to fill in a form with personal details, a log-line for your idea, and a description of your pitch.
You will then have to accept terms and conditions before submitting your pitch. Remember to add all the details in your pitch that will make your idea stand out. Shaky alibi only accepts ideas for a unique and attractive reality show. It is best to do a search on imdb.com to check if your idea has already been done before. If it’s not, feel free to submit your idea if you think it’s good enough.
Discovery Studios is a subsidiary of Discovery Inc. It is one of the biggest platforms of non-fiction shows and is watched in around 220 countries.
Some of its categories are reality, lifestyle, and adventure. The studio’s most well-known channels are Discovery Channel, Food Network, Animal Planet, and TLC. Discovery is open to ideas from individuals outside their network.
ITV is an Australian based production company that has its offices in Sydney, Paris, Stockholm, Koln, London, and Los Angeles. It is open to talent outside its company from anywhere. That means anyone can pitch their TV show ideas.
ITV offers a broad range of genres for TV and web shows. They encourage writers to submit scripts of any genre they like.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
CBC is a Canadian production company that aims to create shows that represent Canadians and their diversity. CBS offers producers to pitch their show ideas to CBC and get a chance to get their show on the channel.
It offers a variety of genres in which you can submit your idea. It will automatically go to the relevant department of each genre. Some of the categories are comedy, factual, and drama. You can view the complete list of genres on the CBC website.
To submit an script, you have to download the submission release form from the CBC website and submit your idea along with the form. If your pitch interests CBC, you will get a response from the team within 6-8 weeks.
Crazy Legs Production
Crazy Legs Production is situated in Atlanta and offers low-cost production services to its clients. Some of these clients include TLC, Cartoon Network, Coca-Cola, and the Travel Channel.
It has produced shows in the categories of reality and scripted. Some of the shows include Family by the Ton, Hotel Amazon, To Catch a Killer and Dead Silent.
ABC TV productions is an Australian company that works with independent producers to create content for its viewers. The company also has subsidiary channels such as ABC Kids and ABC Comedy and a range of genres to pitch in.
Some of the genres that ABC produces are drama and comedy, arts, children, indigenous, documentary, and sports. ABC is open to pitches from external producers and independent production companies.
Writers can pitch for any of the categories mentioned on the ABC website. Each genre has its specific rules and regulations. For example, the drama and comedy category requires a pitch document, a series outline, and a sample script for submission. Its best to also submit a sample video material.
Juma TV is a television production company that specializes in non-scripted shows, mostly in the genres of lifestyle and competition. Its services also include event production and consulting.
Some of the company’s popular projects are Pool Kings, Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown, Superstar Renovation, and Barn Hunters.
As a producer, scriptwriter, or even a creative individual, you have a lot of opportunities to earn rewards for your imagination. If you have a stellar idea for a show, don’t sit back on it. Use your creativity to earn credit and huge bucks.
How to Pitch a TV Show to Netflix, Cable and Networks in 8 Steps.
The ultimate 8-step guide to pitching a TV show to a network, cable or streaming platform.
How to pitch a TV show to Netflix, networks (and more) in 8 steps.
Learning how to pitch a TV show is just an important skill to learn as writing the script itself. You can write the best pilot in history, but if you don’t know how to pitch it, it’s unlikely your show will get produced.
Apart from great writing, you need to be able to convince the financial gatekeepers (read: executives) that your idea has the originality, longevity and “wow-factor” to turn it into a successful series. And turn over a tidy profit.
To do so, you will need to learn how to pitch a TV show. But what does “pitch” mean exactly?
• What kind of pitch should you put together in order to sell them on your big idea?
• What should you include in such a document?
• How should it be tailored to suit the particular entity you’re pitching to?
Below, we’ll aim to answer these queries by running through the means and methods behind pitching a variety of documents to different TV mediums.
In this post you will learn:
• The #1 thing that makes a successful pitch to a TV show
• How to create a pitch document
• How to pitch a TV show to Netflix and other streaming and cable platforms
• How to pitch a TV show to a network
• How to pitch a reality TV show
• Why writing credits are so important when pitching TV shows
We’ll also include a TV show pitch example in each section so you also get an idea of what you should be creating as part of the pitch process. So let’s dive on in…
How to pitch a TV show STEP #1: Come up with a unique idea for a TV show.
Just like with a feature screenplay, writing a great TV script all begins and ends with the concept.
A TV script lives and dies by its concept: the core idea behind the show that will make people want to watch the pilot and keep watching the series.
The cable and streaming world in particular have never been bolder creatively than they are today. So you must really put in the effort to make sure your show’s concept stands out from the pack.
The logline, otherwise known as an “elevator pitch.”
The way to do this is to come up with a script logline: a short one or two sentence summary of your TV show’s core idea. It should be short and snappy enough to engage an exec during a chance encounter in an elevator, hence the term “elevator pitch.”
For example, let’s say your logline for a new TV show is:
When a mother’s young son disappears she must fight to get him back.
This is fine as an initial idea for a TV script, but it’s missing that “wow factor.” A boy just going missing by itself is not interesting or original enough a concept to sustain a full TV series.
But how about this?:
When a young boy disappears from a quiet 1980s suburban town, his mother, friends, and the police chief must confront terrifying alien forces in order to get him back.
In other words, once the initial concept is expanded upon to create a unique world and situation we’ve never seen before, you have Stranger Things.
The expanded logline.
However, as opposed to feature script loglines, in TV it’s sometimes necessary to prefix a TV logline with a few more specific elements noting the channel, time slot and length.
In other words, is your show for cable, streaming or a network? Will it be shown in the morning or at prime-time? Is it a half-hour show, or one hour?
Our Stranger Things logline, therefore, could become this:
The show is a prime-time, hour-long, sci-fi comedy thriller about a young boy who disappears from a quiet 1980s suburban town, and his mother, friends and the police chief, must confront terrifying alien forces in order to get him back.
Tighten the concept.
Once you think your logline is strong enough, put it out of mind for a couple of weeks. Then, go back to it and ask yourself the following questions:
• Is this concept truly original?
• Will this idea stand out from the pack?
• What makes this show’s world unique?
• What am I showing viewers they’ve never seen before?
If, after this, you’re not sure if the concept is really a knockout, it probably isn’t. In which case it’s time to go back and brainstorm ways to make it better.
Once you think your show’s idea is truly exceptional, tell other people about it. See how they respond. It’s hard to feign enthusiasm, so this will tell you a lot. (You can email people your idea, but telling them face-to-face is probably the best method as you’ll get a real-time gut reaction.)
Does the person seem non-plussed? Or are they genuinely excited? Do they respond with something along the lines of “I wish I’d thought of that!” Or “That’s freaking AWESOME!” If not, your idea might still need tweaking.
This process of getting feedback on your concept from other people or a script consultancy is essential, rather than just deciding it’s good enough by yourself.
How to pitch a TV pilot STEP #2: Write a rocking script.
Once you’re 100 percent certain your idea is rock solid, it’s time for the hard part: writing a script that lives up to the concept.
Generally, any pitch package will entail completing a finished pilot script to go with the logline. This should give the executive a sense of your writing style and the general direction the story is headed in.
As you write, make sure every aspect relates back to the core concept. Stay true to that initial idea that got you excited to write it in the first place and this enthusiasm will come across in your writing.
(We have a post on how to write for TV that you may find helpful when it comes to the actual writing of your script.)
Again, once the script’s done, put it out of sight and mind for at least two weeks. Then, ask someone you know (preferably who works in the industry) or a script consultant to give you feedback on your pilot.
Only once your concept and script are lock tight, is it time to learn how to create a pitch document for a TV show…
How to pitch a TV script STEP #3: Create a pitch document.
Given the greater need for specificity in television formats than features, a TV pitch also typically requires a pitch document.
This is a concisely worded tract which breaks down the concept, marketability, and long-term vision of the prospective show. Particularly in the realm of cable and streaming TV, it’s preferable to create what’s called a “series bible” otherwise known as a “bible.”
The series bible.
Your show bible should go into greater detail about the potential program’s aesthetic choices, dramatic arcs, and pop-culture reference points.
There isn’t a set length, but we recommend not preparing a pitch document any shorter than six to seven pages. This is due to the sheer amount of topics you should address in it. Generally, these should include:
• Title. Create an interesting title that touches on the main theme of the story, or the dramatic tension faced by your character.
• Logline. A punchy yet impactful summation of the story concept. No more than two sentences, ideally one. A logline for a narrative series will usually delve into the particular circumstances and conflict that drives the plot forward.
• Synopsis . A broad overview of the series, making clear the world it’s set in and the dynamics between the characters. This is of particular importance from a commercial perspective to a network, because you’re highlighting the most compelling thematic facets of the series. This could be accomplished in a few paragraphs, or a number of pages, so long as the writing itself is polished and reads at a nice clip.
• Characters. Describe your protagonist and other key players in the show. Speak to their backgrounds as well as their current lifestyle in a paragraph or so. Explain the way in which they view the world; how they see themselves and how they relate to other people. Find their flaws, their quirks, and the unique peccadillos that make them tick.
• Pilot outline. A step-by-step breakdown of the pilot episode, running through the machinations of the plot.
• Future episodes. A list of eight to thirteen descriptions of potential future episodes—something akin to a logline for each one.
TV show pitch template examples.
Probably one of the best ways to get accustomed to what goes into a TV pitch document is to check out some TV pitch template and series bible examples.
Stranger Things TV pitch template example.
Here’s part of the TV series bible for the show Stranger Things (then called “Montauk.”)
You can read and download the entire Stranger Things series bible here.
New Girl TV show pitch template.
And here’s part of the New Girl TV series bible:
As you can see, this document is full of pizzaz and humor, but it lacks the intensely visual component and the level of detail found in the one for Stranger Things. Despite their differences, however, both these shows place story and character up front.
You can find many more TV pitch show templates in our post 40 TV Show Bible Examples to Download and Study.
Series bible elements.
All of these elements put together should broadly address the following:
• How are your primary characters and your characters’ world unique?
• What makes the audience care about these characters?
• What are their complexities and their flaws?
• What drives them to make the choices they do?
• Why do you as a writer feel the need to tell this particular story?
• What do you want the audience to take away from it?
• What is the overall tone of the show?
• If possible, compare it to a combination of other, existing programs or movies.
Track the character arcs over the course of the entire season to show how the characters evolve throughout it. A broad, “big picture” look at the story of the first season, which outlines its major beats and movements.
What makes this show stand out from the pack? Why should they green-light your vision over any number of similar, competing ones?
The complete pitch package.
Your pitch document/series bible should complete a pitch package that looks something like this:
• Logline/“elevator pitch”
• Pitch document/series bible
• TV pilot script
Once you have all these and have received positive professional feedback on your script, it’s time to learn how to pitch a TV show to a cable or streaming channel.
This particular TV show pitch example runs an impressive twenty-three pages, though it is peppered with numerous stylized images.
Given that Netflix is something of a “disrupter” in the entertainment industry, they’re looking for more dynamic, out-of-the-box choices than other platforms might. They also put less of a premium on seeing multiple season arcs than some of their more traditionally-minded competitors.
Once you have your logline, series bible and script, you’re then ready to submit to a streaming/cable company via your agent or manager. Or pass your materials along to someone you know who works at Netflix, HBO, Amazon, etc.
If these aren’t options, we’ll show you some real-world strategies on how to pitch a TV show to Netflix and more at the end of the post.
How to pitch a TV script STEP #4: Try to gain TV writing credits.
It’s incredibly difficult to successfully pitch a TV show without some kind of professional writing credits. But here are a few strategies you should use to try and do just that.
Our top 4 strategies to getting credits.
• Place highly in a screenwriting contest. Not all contests have TV script categories but do some research and submit and if you win or place in at least the top five, doors may start to open. Here’s a list of the best screenwriting contests out there.
• Upload your TV show online. Screenplay submissions sites like the Blacklist are used by many aspiring TV writers to get their work noticed by industry professionals. Most require a fee of some kind to place your script on them, so proceed with caution. Here are some ideas on how to sell a screenplay you may find useful.
• Find success in a different medium first. If your idea for a TV show first gets published as a novel or receives millions of hits online as a web series, you’ll have a ready-made built-in audience. Developing a successful existing IP will go a long way to convincing execs you have what it takes to make them money.
• Get a job at a streaming, cable, network or reality platform. If you’re unable to walk right into an executive’s office and hand them your script, why not get a position at the kind of company you’d like to write for? Working in the mailroom, as an intern or assistant, or on set, will provide you with a network who can help your career.
More things you can do.
Enter contests, submit your scripts to online submission sites. Soon you’ll be able to land yourself an agent and manager who’ll be able to guide you through the tricky waters of how to pitch a TV show.
Pitch documents/series bibles are as varied and multifaceted as the content they aim to sell. Depending on the platform, market, or discipline you’re trying to work in, the nature of your pitch can veer into entirely different directions.
That said, one unifying principle remains: you must have a clear and concise idea of what it is you’re looking to do and why.
The more firm and specific your reasoning—and the better you can explain it on the page—the more likely it is that someone of importance in the industry will eventually say the magic word: yes.
Most importantly, keep writing and studying existing TV shows of the type you want to sell and keep improving your craft.
With this in mind, the first step towards being able to pitch a TV show to almost any cable or streaming platform is to gain representation.
How to pitch a TV show STEP #5: Try to get a manager (and agent).
It’s very difficult to pitch a TV series to a streaming, cable or network company unless you already have a track record of working in television or film.
This is no easy task in and of itself, but you can read more here on how to get a screenwriting agent and manager.
In this post we detail the exact steps you can take to help secure yourself representation. With that in place, it’ll make pitching and selling a TV script that much more credible.
How to pitch a TV show STEP #6: Learn how to pitch to to cable.
It’s important as a budding TV writer to first and foremost understand the difference between pitching a TV show to Netflix and other cable channels, and pitching a TV pilot to a network station.
Let’s start with pitching a TV show to cable.
How to pitch a TV show to Netflix and cable.
At this point, streaming and cable services have become a de facto part of everyday life. Millions subscribe to companies like Netflix, Amazon and HBO. But if you’re hoping to get all those eyeballs on your show, you’ll first need to learn how to pitch a TV show the right way.
The bad news is most cable/streaming services have a no-unsolicited submissions policy. This means if you don’t yet have an agent or manager, you most likely won’t be able to send them your script.
However, all is not lost… Later in the post, we go into some strategies and tactics you can use to get your foot in the door without an agent or manager
(Amazon Studios did offer an unsolicited submissions program but that ended on June 30, 2018.)
How to pitch a television show STEP #7: Learn how to pitch to a network.
Unlike cable and streaming services, network TV is a somewhat more rigid and traditional arena in which to pitch your TV series.
This is because studios that create network TV are looking for much more of a safe bet. And this desire that should be reflected in your pitch document.
Typically, these pitch documents/series bibles would be more succinct and to-the-point than their artier cousins in the streaming/cable world. It should ideally focus on the basics and eschew any more stylized effects.
Again, these materials present should include the title, a logline, synopsis, character breakdown, pilot outline and summaries of future episodes. This last step is of particular importance in the network TV realm.
Unlike Netflix, they’re only greenlighting a pilot, rather than entire season’s worth of content. So you need to prove to them that you have enough gas in the tank, story-wise, to allow for future episodes and seasons.
In addition to writing a pilot script, you might even want to consider writing a second or third episode to give an even better idea of where things are headed. Netflix is (essentially) a bottomless pit of money and resources. A studio, though, is making a fairly speculative investment by taking on your pitch.
Network pilot season.
For one thing, the networks actually operate on a particular schedule. This is mostly centered around the so-called “pilot season.” It begins with scripts being ordered in January and ends with casting and production crews being assembled by mid-Spring.
In June or July (of the year prior to said season) you would pitch your work to a studio, which can be thought of as a sort of bank. If they like your idea, they will then advance you, as show creator, the finances to produce a pilot.
This pilot is then shopped around to the networks, looking for a “pick-up” to series. Networks are essentially renting out these shows for one premiere airing and a few repeats. So if the show costs more to produce than what the network will pay up front (which is usually the case), then the studio must finance the deficit.
How to pitch a reality TV show STEP #8: Learn how to pitch a reality show.
Unlike other types of shows, reality TV is obviously set apart due to its lack of a pre-determined script or story. That being said, just as much preparation—if not more—must go into such a show’s development.
Your pitch document will need to be brimming with information to communicate the particular brand of reality show you’re aiming to create.
Arc-style reality TV vs. self-contained.
First, you have to decide whether you are proposing an “Arc-Style” concept or a “Self-Contained” concept.
• Arc-Style. This is a long-term competition format, wherein the same set contestants are pitted against one another and one person is voted off each week. Examples include Survivor, The Bachelor and Top Chef.
• Self-Contained. This format would involve new contestants/challenges each week. The structure is limited to its run-time, rather than a full season. Examples include Fear Factor, Undercover Boss, and Chopped.
Making a reality TV show stand out.
Once you’ve settled on a format, the next step is to begin putting together your pitch. Just like narrative television, a premium is placed on originality and a fresh voice, so it’s always wise to try tackling a subject that has never been exposed before.
Choose a particularly odd profession, a wild and wacky family, a niche lifestyle, or anything that is, in some way, alien to the general public.
Just as in the narrative world, pitching reality begins with a title, logline, and synopsis. The title should hit on what we’re seeing in a more straightforward manner, as opposed to the sometimes ambiguous nature of dramatic TV.
Similarly, the logline needs to be more direct in terms of hitting upon the nature of the premise and the “rules” that the cast must abide by.
Next comes the synopsis, which would typically range from one to four pages long, depending on the idea. For a docu-style series, remember that you are pitching a specific world and the individuals inhabiting it in the place of a traditional story.
This is content based on real lives, after all. Keep in mind that you have no way of predicting exactly how things will turn out, so rather than approximating specific situations, it’s better to lay bare the ways in which you would try to drum up drama (particular challenges, gimmicks, and so forth.)
Reality vs. narrative schedules.
Unlike the fixed schedule inherent to network narratives, most reality TV producers do not operate under any limited period. Instead, they scout all year round, since it costs relatively little to develop unscripted programming.
One way to put your reality show pitch over the top would be to shoot a “sizzle reel.” This essentially amounts to a proof-of-concept video showing how your program would play visually.
You’ll most likely be financing such a reel yourself. But it could be worth it as an additional motivating factor for a production company to agree to underwrite your vision.
For some insight on how to pitch a reality show, see this article pertaining to the documents for a potential season of Survivor.
FAQs on how to pitch a TV show to a production company.
Q1. How much do TV pilots sell for?
A. 60-minute Network Prime Time Teleplay: $25,451 – $25,963. 30-minute Network Prime Time Teleplay: $18,864 – $19,244. 60-minute other than Network (Cable) Prime Time Teleplay: $18,778 – $19,728. 30-minute other than Network (Cable) Prime Time Teleplay: $9,690 – $10,180. For more info on screenwriters’ salaries, check out our post on the subject here.
Q2. Do I need an agent to pitch a TV show?
A. Not necessarily, but it certainly helps as many (if not most) production companies don’t accept unsolicited scripts. Everyone’s situation is different, though, and if you can get your script into the right hands through connections, contests, hustling, then there’s nothing stopping you.
Q3. How does a TV writer get an agent?
A. It’s best to go for a manager first. We outline the exact steps you need to take in this post: How to Get a Screenwriting Agent & Manager.
Q4. How do I sell an idea for a TV show?
A. First, write a great script. The script is everything. Then create a pitch package. Then, a plan of attack on who to pitch it to. Rinse and repeat.
Q5. Is pitching a TV show the same outside of the United States?
A. While other countries outside the USA won’t necessarily have the same structures in place when it comes to pitching a TV show, they all will have the same requirement: a great script. Let’s say you want to know how to pitch a TV show in the UK. First write that knock-out script. Then, research specifically how to pitch it in the UK.
Q6. Can anyone pitch a TV show idea?
A. Yes, you need formal screenwriting qualifications, training or industry connections. (Although they help.) All you need is dedication to writing as good a script as you possibly can.
Q7. What about those TV show ideas wanted ads?
A. If you see one of these, please proceed with extreme caution. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can read more about his in our post “Why You Should Avoid Screenplay Wanted Ads.”
Q8. How old do you have to be to pitch a TV show?
A. Unfortunately, agism is more prevalent in TV writing than feature writing. If you’re middle-aged and trying to break into a writers’ room, it’s probably going to be harder than if you’re in your twenties. That said, it’s not impossible and we give some tips on how to do it in this post on Ageism in Hollywood.
Q9. How do you write a pitch for a TV show?
A. See the section above titled “Create a pitch document.”
How to pitch a TV show: conclusion.
It’s a long road learning how to pitch a TV show to a network, cable or streaming company. But if you’re willing to put in the work outlined in this post, you’ll get there.
Your step-by-step process should go something like this:
• Come up with an awesome, never-seen-before concept for a TV show.
• Learn how to write for TV and write a spectacular pilot.
• Get some professional writing credits and gain representation.
• Put together a pitch document.
• Research which companies are the best fit for your show.
• Pitch your TV show.
Follow these steps, but not necessarily in this order. Repeat (a lot) and you should hopefully find success pitching your TV show.
Need feedback on a TV pilot?
We hope you found this post on how to pitch a TV show to a production company helpful. If you’d like us to give you feedback on your TV show’s concept, pitch document or on the script itself, check out the following links:
Thanks for reading and we look forward to working with you.
Enjoyed this post? Read more on how to become a TV writer…
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Does this also apply to “short form” shows that would be placed on streaming tv channels?
Great information!! Thank you for sharing with us.
Thanks Christopher, happy pitching!
That was so helpful .. thank you.. I have a question! is it possible to pitch my tv show idea throw internet ! just online ..because I’m not from the us .. but I would love to pitch my idea to a network there..is it possible??
Thanks for the great advice, it’s always a pleasure reading your articles, puts everything into perspective and gets me pumped up for the next step.
Great to hear – thanks for reading, Bernadette!
I have currently have a script for at least 12 episodes and I’m got six more episodes for a show called out of Earth it is a show about an alien who comes to Earth in these normal humans have to protect the secret of the alien kind if anyone find out it could be dangerous will anyone find out or will they keep a secret this is a kid / comedy/ action there will be at least 18 episodes of season 1 if I be able to start a season 2 there’ll be 22 episodes I’ll be on any network that’s a kid Network please pitch my idea
This is great! I have this great ideas for two reality shows.
Glad it helped, Shirlan!
I am (finally) writing my scripts (all 22 episodes). Did large portion of my Bible, your insight was incredibly helpful. Mine is a half hour comedy, probably will be streamed on Youtube or the like at the onset, including a 3.5 minute music videos (I am a musician, lawyer, entertainer, and novelist). I found your insights invaluable. Don’t think networks will pick up my show, but since I am filming it in both Spanish and English, I may have a chance with Spanish broadcasters. Thank you, i’ll keep reading if you keep writing.
Very insightful have an idea now that is ready need connections.
I have already filmed a pilot for a TV show that stars two plushies but those plushies are copyrighted characters. How do I get copyright?
If they’re copyrighted you’d have to contact the person/company to request permission.
I have a ideas to pitch TV shows
Problem is Iam to scared.
dear sir or madam
I was wondering why so many shows are all Dramas my children I don’t think they need all this issues you have Christy knows best there falling apart all these women shows of all these troubles fights arguments were in 2020 you want DRAMA LOOK OUTSIDE WATCH TV PEOPLE DYING HOSPITIAL SHOWING PEOPLE GOING IN AND HOW FEW ARE COMING OUT THE (FRONT DOOR not in the body bag I am a Marine corps sniper vet I seen more drama killing and murder
I feel you need to make channels with these shows same with court tv put them.on there. own channel. and maybe you should come up.with something different
I grew up with Walt Disney what don’t you get the old Saturday morning CARTOONS to make for Free for kids .the new ones are something I drew and I not a artist Come on maybe even a spin off of C M T channel to take the those patriotic song like red white blue even the motown songs to pull us together and teach these young people to lose the dirty rap.
Very good article. I’m sure it is helpful for those ready to screenwrite.
I am a writer/author of mental health autobiographical books. My life with BiPolar, written from a mother and daughters POV. I want to give someone the option to buy the rights and make them into a movie or tv show.
What is the best next move for me?
Best advice I’ve read.
Glad you enjoyed it, Brian – thanks for the shoutout!
Over the last 20 years I have been writing an adventure story which Is now complete and covers 7 volumes comprising of over 160 chapters and 2000 pages. It is currently being converted to eBooks and will soon be for sale on Kindle. It is perfect for a long running tv series for streaming. I have been told it is ‘like nothing else out there’.. Please advise as to how I can pitch this to streaming platforms.
Q: do you have to tell if you are pitching a show to more than one place at once? I’m pitching a show to a production company and also to a producer at Discovery. Id it bad form not to tell them I’m pitching to the other? Does that spur competition/interest? Or do they not care at all? Thanks.
Great question, Tracy. No need to tell each company about who you’re submitting to, just focus on them individually.
HY MY NAME IS CHARMAINE LAWRENCE, IM SELLING A TV SHOW IDEA BASED ON REALITY SHOWS… THANK YOU
Good luck, Charmaine!
This was a super helpful article! I’m a new writer, I’ve never written a script before recent but I have written a Pilot episode to a TV Show I am hoping to see be brought to life in the future. This article has shown me many things I will need to think about an do before I can even think about pitching my show, so thank you!
Thanks, Jay, that’s great to hear. Best of luck with the pilot!
I wish to tell you about hosting a show on ABP News and NDTV India where in the former one its main version will be telecast on 9:00 o clock the previous day and in the latter one its repeat version will be telecast on the next day at 5:00 o clock,
Hi. I’ve created a storyline for a tv series or movie, and I’m hoping to produce it one day. I came up with the idea 20 years ago and still to this day evolve and tinker it. I graduated college with a degree in media production in 2012 and currently work in the mailroom at CBS in NYC. Its taken a while but I’m getting there! Wish me luck everyone! I’m going to make my story a reality!
Keep at it, JC, and any questions along the way feel free to reach out anytime!
i have a great idea for tv comedy show
i need help with writing and how to move on with that idea ,or how can i contact the right person
i have wrote the beginning of it
i had some little experience with writing
i have wrote sci fi story as well
hopefully anyone here can help
Hi my name is Brandi Moon and I have a great idea for a reality show. My idea is for the famous and rich to trade places with a homeless person for a week. Give the homeless person a chance to get out there and get his life together. At the end of the week that famous person gives the homeless person 20,000 to start his new life..
Hi my book is called scoosters adventures in two strokes Town, and it is for sale and would be a great TV show
Sounds good, good luck with it, Alan!
Lovely article. On point as all your write-ups always are. I have a question though. If I submit my pitch to executives- say Netflix and Hulu- and both accepts it. What do I do in such a scenario?
Then you’ll be the envy of every budding TV writer out there It would be up to you to decide on the better option according to the terms of the contract and each platform’s vision for your show.
Hi I have an idea for a show please email me my name is Shanae corporal
Hi I have a great Idea for a tv show.
Would love to share with you.
I am a 40 year old woman who is climbing her way up from the streets, prison, and abuse. I am now living in a small town , with small town values , trying to raise my two (wild and crazy )daughter’s to try and give them a better life. Not only do I stand out from everyone else, with my blond hair and tattoos, but I managed to get a job as the VERY FIRST FEMALE to ever hold a City Job in the Sanitation Department! The town does not know what to think of this crazy looking female on the back of a trash truck working like a man among men. People stopped in their tracks accidents almost happen it is something this town has never seen. And as I try to keep on the straight and narrow I’m also trying to prove myself and a man’s world. My life is fast-paced, I am learning as I go,. I believe this would be a good show about change, about finding yourself, discovering your strength you never knew you had, but most of all hopefully an inspiration to those who thought they would never overcome there demons and struggles.
Thanks for the comment, Emaly, and best of luck with your writing!
I am the sole owner and creator and NOW is the time! Please visit my page, thank you!
I have a TV talk show… Already have the pilot and episode.. But I want to pitch to networks.. In my case should I agent or a manager because since I cannot solicit myself… What should be my next step who exactly do I need on my team to shop it around… Lost and frustrated
I would recommend checking out our post: How to Get an Agent and Manager if you haven’t already. Best of luck!
I have an idea for a show I’m the fish man or meat and seafood guy been in business over 20 yrs it’s quite an interesting business I guarantee ppl will watch it I would like to give you an idea could be comedic and or real life reality T.V
I have an idea for a show I’m the fish man or meat and seafood guy been in business over 20 yrs it’s quite an interesting business I guarantee ppl will watch it I would like to give you an idea could be comedic and or real life
Can you help me with competition show like “American Idol” for example.
Sure thing – you can check out our TV coverage here.
This is terrific. Thank you. I’m diving back into my next piece of writing and don’t want to take time out to learn and apply a whole new (pitch-deck creating) skill. Can you recommend anyone/service to work with me in creating a pitch deck for my pilot? Thanks for any guidance.
how can i access my email address
Why there are so many bad shows on TV. It seems that a certain established (“bankable) star wants to work in television again and some Hollywood sycophantic bigwigs went ahead to create a series just to appease him/her.
Very complete and super helpful. I’ve actually got a production company who wants to make my show and is shopping it around to Netflix, Prime and local cable here in Europe. But is there anything I can do to help it along? My agent says it’s going to take time, but I hate passively waiting, especially if I COULD be doing something. Any suggestions?
If you don’t have a manager you could try getting one. And get started on your next script
Awesome article! This was a perfect breakdown of all the necessary info needed! I swear I thought I’d run into a ‘To Learn More and get all the info, click here to buy the course’s but the info just kept going! I have an idea that I’m passionate about and I hit most of the points you mentioned. Now it’s time to hit the other points and tighten it up! And look through my contacts to see who works at a network or streaming service. Thanks again!
Sounds good – glad the article helped, Glen!
Dear Sir / Madam
I have been doing live poetry for over 17 years.
I would like your help.
I would like to know the cost.
I would like to do a short TV
Pilot poetry on pictures.
( a bit like catch phrase.)
I would do poetry on 10 to 15 pictures.
Then people could guess.
What the phrase is.
I have 424 videos on youtube with over 2000 likes.
Plus i started a web page on facebook called.
does the poet know it
I have over 400 likes.
.I will include.
4 films that i have made.
I am no good at tech.
1 is 1 minute 6 seconds long Made by the BBC Middlesbrough.
2 Was made by a hartlepool film Maker and is 6 minutes long
3 Is made by a Hartlepool charity that is now closed down and is just over 17 minutes long.
4 Is Hartlepool in tourism and is 3 minutes long.
Mr Brian Loughborough
Proverbially, one must throw a lot of crap at the wall in order to get some to stick. Scriptreaderpro.com showed me not only where the wall is but how to throw with my wrist. Thank you.
Thanks for the shout out, Michael
Thank you for this information. I’ve written many stage plays, music and other poet peices. This helped me broaden my horizon and I just know that I am going to have a breakthrough soon with my idea. Thank you
Glad the post helped, Vanessa!
Great feed back
Hi my name is Chris Urbanski. I have cost a family members death to alcohol and live in alcohol to cope with what I have done. This would be a great show that can caption the heroes and military life. I could be a great asset to this production. Please call and gear my story. Chris Urbanski II
please who can i talk to on netflix. I have a book that will make a great movie or a show.
Do you folks know about box1 TV?
It’s crazy reading all these way to pitch a idea for reality show smh. How about stop worrying about all these rich mother fucker. And do something different. Ummm real life club person that been in the business for 20 years will take you you back from the beginning till now. I’m
Sure people would love to see who I am… Ramon Ramirez… all that Kim k getting boring
How do I pitch an idea for a show or movie?
I don’t wanna give any details cause..I think its got potential. I’ll give you this.. kind of end of the world Survivor story.
I am pitching a show to a few networks and streaming services and this has been such a helpful resource for writing a series bible. look out for my show (currently called “corpse for consult”) about a psychologist who comes back to life and consults people about their death.
Thank you so very very much for the blessings of free screenwriting information here. I commend your service and you, because it has truly been a huge blessing for me.
I’m a fresh intern and have just been put in charge of starting a series bible for my boss — this article has truly been a godsend. It’s so detailed and informative! Thank you so much for the insight and resources, you deserve all the kudos!!
Glad it helped you out, River!
These people r fing jokes. My idea has all the things and more. I would be happy to tell u the idea bc no one can do what I can which is write and star in a sure fire demographic hit. Why should I be contacting an agent or manager when I will be making them rich. If they don’t wanna hear what I have then the world will just have to wait for the next big thing.
What a joke. Some person acting like they could be me John Q Public. This is why the quality of TV has gone to the dogs. And people subscribe to u tube. I’m sorry but I can’t say no more w out being profane. There is a big difference from me and everyone else I don’t want to be famous. I just want to put something on that is not total discredit to the country we live in. Plz if you do submit something have some morals. Do it for a win win not to see how big an ass u can exploit people. Tv is loaded w that crap. Do something for the masses. Make people laugh w u not at u. If u think I’m crazy or delusional great. If u think I make sense even better. I’m looking to make TV useful again. We all at least are in this site bc we are disappointed w what is out there so u may disagree w me on some plain but if on all your just a hypocrite. See u on Netflix
Hello, what is the best way to get an agent in LA? With already having content written. Thanks
Have you seen this post on how to get an agent/manager?
This was such a good article! I have a quick question though, how would I go about pitching to a streaming service as an Australian? Would I need an American agent or would an Australian one be okay too? Thanks in advance!
Thanks, Bridget! Do you mean manager? You don’t really need an agent to pitch to anyone.
This post will assist me on my journey to writing for tv I am sure. Thanks guys.
Thanks for yet other fantastic post. I am sending in my pilot to you very soon.
Another way of finding your way into tv is to get to know writers who hang in all the coolest bars and coffee shops in Hollywood.
Hi there would you mind sharing which method you guys used to break into TV? Thank you.
Do TV studios still accept specs based on old sitcom?
It is Wednesday my dudes.
It is Wednesday my dudes.
Email me script reader pro.. you will want to hear this one…it’s G 55 classified lol
I have the one that will be the best…. 5 min shorts…that everyone will stay tuned in…they will want to know what he’s up to… Every moment of the day..
I have an idea so good it will blow your mind.the super Mario brothers super show.with super stars in need for help like the classic Mario show I have a video so cool I made but don’t know who to send it too…please contact me privately for video upload and info I also have another idea Real events of a bus driver ,,the show with real everyday events of transportation…
Sounds pretty gruesome to blow away your family man…!
I have amazing idea for a show about wives of gangesters in nineties and milleimum times it will be based in Bronx my name is essence Scott the show should be on vhl
Best of luck with it!
This post came right on time, I’m getting ready to submit my pilot to several contests. Very exciting, I feel this is the year!
Good luck, Bradley!
I have an amazing tv show idea that blew away my whole family i just want to pitch it to Netflix
My approach is a little different. Its good to see the outline you provided. It makes sense. I took the approach that it makes more sense to first view a childrens film that has won international accolades produced in the early part of the 20th C. Secondly, and most importantly, write a novel if it was never based on one by using the same identical theme BUT changing all the characters, places, and events and expand and update the specifics. Third … expand it into a series of several novels. This I have done using Amazon as a platform for reproduction. Fourth …. DON’T publish it. Fifth …. come up with a striking title that is dynamic and easy to remember. This can be done by using previous titles of major well known works and then ‘tweaking’ the title to suit ones own concept. That done, both the story and title can be ‘tweaked’ yet again by a network company. It gives them latitude if it hasn’t been previously published. Not saying this is going to work but I have done some of the exhausting grunt work to get to this point. I have also promised to commit to 80 novels spanning 10 years and offer my assistance as a script writer. Organizing is everything. One voice of caution. I still have a pretty good chance of NOT making it still.
Hi my name is Richard Ray. I love to write for your site. May be you like teens love/detective stories. Just give me one chance.
Sorry, Tanmay, we’re not a production company.
A man wakes up to find his been accused of rape by a woman he never met and must clear his name before he loses everything.
I agree with your points, great post. Writing for TV is my dream.
Appreciate it for writing this guide, good info.
you need to pick up One Mississippi. Aside from the show’s originality, One Mississippi was the most relevant show in this time. Not only is it reavling modern material in a real time format it is necessary for everyone when it comes to the future possible dealings of sexual predators. You have Tig already on your network with her standup and biographical documentary, ceal the deal by picking up a third season of One Mississippi.
Hi, my name is Mario I have written episodes of a mini series. Am looking for a buyer.
This is awesome! Really appreciate you putting this together Script Reader Pro.
Thanks for the shoutout, Eva!
Dive into the exciting life of HBCU cheerleading. Join Grambling State University cheerleaders as we go through ups and downs getting ready for Nationals. Being the only SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) D1 school that has competed in this competition we have a lot of pressure on our shoulders. We’re not only doing it for ourselves but also the whole black community, you don’t see a lot of all black teams doing what we do. Our coach is the LEGENDARY Terry Lilly. Not only will you get the chance to see us work you get a peak into our personal lives also, you get to see our struggles, our drama, our success and how it all comes together. Mostly you get to see how we are a family, we all have issues we’re dealing with and a lot of us are coming from all over the U.S its a breath of fresh air to have a home away from home.
The day before leaving to Nationals in April 2018 my Grandmother passed even with that loss we went and left everything on the matt for her, this is my family I want everyone to see what we’re made of. Give us a chance to show the world who we are.
We have vlogs on youtube and our Daytona Nationals performance is also on there. Thank you for your time.
Hello my name is Kane clavizzao I am an author of a children’s book that two-headed caterpillar I like to bring a couple of my books ideas to you I think they would be great for a movie or even a series my phone number is 470-775-5263 thank you
Everything’s coming together now in my mind. So pumped to get my TV script out there. Thank you thank you thank you! !
Great stuff, Stuart!
Have your readers worked in tv. I am considering sending in my script for review.
Yes, we have. You can read our bios here.
I need to know how to write a teaser. Does every script episode have to have one?
Where can I sell my tv script?
This is fantastic and thorough advice. After reading it, I feel energized to continue with my writing, more confidence, better informed and most importantly the realization that “YES I can actually try and, it’s not unrealistic”
I’m very excited to show my pitch. I’ll let you know how it goes. You just never know.
Thank You for spending the time explaining the process.
That’s great to hear, Nancy! This is why do this – for writers like you
Wonderful post! Thank you for such insights for us fledgling writers on how to write for TV!!
Is it true you can’t sell a pilot without credits?
help needed writing TV episode.
Once in a lifetime opportunity for new material
BROR BLIXEN IN AFRICA
Bror Blixen, Prince of Wales, Denys Finch Hatton
“The Baron was not a man that you forgot.” Ernest Hemingway
Bror Blixen had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills that he transformed from forest and grassland into bright green coffee fields. For seven years he tried to make it prosper but doomed by location, World War I, undercapitalization and his wife’s illness he finally gave up in 1921. To remain in Africa, the land of freedom and opportunity, he became a white hunter, a guide leading “lions in the morning champagne in the evening” safaris for the international social elite.
During the golden age of safaris between the world wars he hunted down East Africa’s primary resource, its wildlife, its elephants, rhinos, lions, buffaloes, hippos, leopards, cheetahs , antelope, the rare okapi. Locating the dwindling game, he stalked it in the long grass, taking the risks while the Vanderbilts or the Prince of Wales were stationed at exactly the right spot to fire heart shots or brain shots. Having experienced the thrills of Blixen-orchestrated “safe danger” they left Africa with crates of tusks, horns, hides, films, photographs, memories for a lifetime.
The Swedish baron organized every detail of their opulently outfitted camps, their long motorcades and post-hunting ngomas which he likened to being 75% a butler but was more like a military commander of an army of gun bearers, porters, drivers,skinners, cooks,white second hunters, camp managers, mechanics, pilots. Between safaris he was a market hunter of ivory wandering alone in unchartered lands of cannibals, pygmies, and tribal chiefs who called him Wahoga, the wild goose, one who is in one place and then another.
A global celebrity with a dazzling personality who could, according to his friends Ernest Hemingway and Beryl Markham, outwalk, outshoot, outdrink and outcharm anyone he led a brave and daring life in colonial Africa. Today however he is remembered as Karen Blixen’s unfaithful husband in the film Out of Africa a romantic melodrama set in Kenya — causing Markham to wonder who in the world these unrecognizable people were. Bror would perhaps have remained a footnote in hunting history had his life in Africa not been bookended by famous writers who created his legend.
The sources for this chronicle of Bror’s life from 1913-1938 are his two hunting memoirs and, while married to Karen Blixen, her letters from Africa, his own not surviving. Safari memoirs and diaries were sources as were biographies of the dramatis persona in his life especially Karen Blixen’s female biographers, given to conflating her fiction with fact, never questioning her version of the truth in which Bror is an uneducated barbarian who didn’t know if the Crusades came before or after the Renaissance, the diametrical opposite of her lover, the Swinburne-spouting dandy Denys Finch Hatton a man she deemed unconditionally truthful.
Bror’s godson and only biographer Ulf Aschan called him a radiant sunburned extrovert who was so irresistible that women pursued him, not the other way around, in The Man Whom Women Loved and Gustaf “Romolus” Kleen, his nephew, described him as likeable, generous, intelligent, at one with everything. Male writers have championed him as fearless, formidable, tough, competent, unpretentious, one of the greatest professional hunters in East Africa between the wars, a courageous tracker, an almost perfect shot and the most inventive pursuer of big ivory. The beautiful, innocent wildlife of East Africa, always in his crosshairs, weaves throughout this narrative of colonial depredations.
Nyama (Meat), published in Swedish in 1937 and translated the next year into English as African Hunter appeared right before Out of Africa. A perceptive reviewer in the New York Times remarked that except for the locale and the same people the books had nothing in common, “nor does each have a place of importance in the other’s writing.” A review of Bror’s second memoir The Africa Letters published in 1943 and translated into English in 1988 declared his greatest claim to fame was giving his wife syphilis.
Both memoirs, written by a professional ghostwriter with a clear eye on contemporary attitudes about conservation, which may or may not have actually been Bror’s, are based on his experience. While the ideas expressed often seem at dramatic odds with his actions we accept them at face value knowing the bare facts of his hunting life are powerful and disturbing enough to shine though.
Bror’s free-spirited behavior which caused so much consternation during his lifetime was typical of his noble caste’s during the dismantling of the 800 year old European aristocracy when noblemen of ancient lineage became disoriented servants to the plutocrats, the New Men of the Second Industrial Revolution. Born into the loftiest of the four estates in Sweden he remained like that other European aristocrat Winston Churchill, a spendthrift, self indulgent, disreputable, wayward, rootless, supremely self confident , indifferent to consequences and disdainful of what he called filthy money matters.
breaking into TV is not as easy as this post makes out. Doors are not easily opened in Hollywood. Especially for newbie writers with no experience no credits and no talent.