For fall network pilots, success is measured in minutes

Pilot Season
Image courtesy of Pop Culture Playpen

Fifteen minutes can go by in a flash or it can feel like a lifetime. When it comes to TV pilots and the networks rolling them out, the first 15 minutes are ALL that matter. That according to this AdWeek article:

“People figure out in the first few minutes whether it’s a good-quality program… These shows had 15 minutes to capture an audience. We found that within 15 minutes, you’re going to know whether that show is going to be a lasting success.”

As networks prepare to release their new primetime pilots and premieres this week, you can bet network execs are sweating those first few minutes. The AdWeek article also pointed out that heading into this fall season, networks are being more diligent than ever in testing and tinkering with new shows, even breaking with tradition by not releasing completed versions of the shows in advance of the premiere. In today’s uber-competitive environment where networks are competing for viewers not only with cable channels but with streaming content providers, new shows are now poked and prodded up to the last minute to try to ensure they’ll be winners from the start.

online dial testing presents networks with a tried-and-true method of testing pilots with speed and efficiencyAt Dialsmith, we’ve done dial testing focus groups to test pilot episodes for every major network at one time or another. But today’s pilot testing is a different game. Need for quick turnarounds, on-the-fly edits and re-testing makes relying on traditional focus groups impractical. But networks are not abandoning the tried-and-true method of dial testing either. Instead, they’re turning to online dial testing, which continues to provide the ability to pinpoint key moments and/or segments of the show that engage and resonate with viewers and (even sometimes more critical) those that don’t, while also providing the speed and efficiency that comes with online testing. So, networks can test full episodes or portions of episodes in rapid succession–tweaking and tinkering all along the way.

So, over the next few weeks while you’re tuning in to what could turn out to be the next Modern Family or Orange is the Next Black, take a second to appreciate that what you’re seeing is the end product of months of testing and refinement–especially before you change the channel.