Very Few New Series Next Fall

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker has confirmed to The New York Times that NBC will save as much as $50 million a year by reducing its reliance on expensive pilots of new series on the network.

The combined double hit of the ongoing writer’s strike and the pending U.S.-led global economic recession has led many networks to tighten their belts and cut back on the several hundred million spent on TV pilots each year by the five major free-to-air broadcasters.

CBS, The CW, and Fox have all cut several scripts currently in development and along with NBC, the four are streamlining their development slate by narrowing their focus on fewer projects reports TV.Com.

For example last year NBC launched four pilots in the Fall with two (Chuck, Life) going onto success, one (Journeyman) already canned and another (Bionic Woman) likely not to return. It’s expected that next Fall the network will only launch only two or three new shows.

Similarly the others are expected to follow suit, as is ABC who confirmed yesterday that it is cancelling commitments to between two and three dozen projects. All the major networks simultaneously cut dozens of development contracts with major players in the industry last week.

With practically all primetime scripted series having now aired or presently airing the last few episodes they have in stock, the likelihood of any series coming back with new episodes before the Summer seems next-to-nil, whilst the fate of some of this past Fall’s solid performers (eg. CBS’s increasingly gripping “Moonlight”) remains up in the air.