Pitch a TV Show PodcastSeason 1: Episode 4
Is your TV show idea too niche?
So far in this season of Pitch a TV Show. The panel of TV experts has told Helen her idea needs celebrities and a new title. This time executive producer Steve Evanson thinks Launch would stand a better chance of success as a YouTube channel.
Is your TV show idea too niche? - Transcript
The experts have been helping Helen sharpen up her idea for a reality TV show about sailing, the advice so far.
"To me, it feels as if there's not quite enough happening."
"Launch is a nice idea, but I don't think it's grabby enough."
I'm Steve Blears in this episode, "I'd probably look to copy the success of shows like Bake Off. Commissioners call them a whittle.
So what's a whittle?
"Hello, Helen. I really enjoyed your pitch for Launch the sailing show. My name's Steve Evanson, I was the co-creator and series producer of Coast for BBC Two.
For 10 years, I ran the show. Now, I really enjoyed listening to your pitch for Launch. I thought your enthusiasm and knowledge came across really well.
I like the idea that you want to inspire people to get out into the great outdoors and that notion of you're in command was a powerful one for your pitch.
Now what I would say is, if you want to get your idea made, what I would suggest is to
look beyond television and focus your efforts on the more niche market.
So it might not be broadcast, it might be online, YouTube or a website. You know, that niche sailing market because I think you've got a good notion. But as it stands, it's not gonna have that sparkle that's going to appeal to a TV company.
I think you could do really well with a focused offering to people who are learning to sail, want to re-engage with sailing."
I'm just gonna jump in here with a quick anecdote because I think Steve's got some valid points to make about looking elsewhere for niche audiences. A couple of years ago, I approached a Youtuber to present on a TV show and I thought, this is a shoo-in. He's gonna wanna be on TV because he's only done YouTube, but actually, it couldn't be further from the truth.
He turned around and went, "no, why should I bother going on TV? I've got a million followers online"
And that goes to show, you shouldn't assume that YouTube, podcasts, websites that sort of thing are second best.
They're often a better fit for niche ideas, like, for example, people who want a pitch a TV show.
Anyway, back to Steve Evanson.
"I've got friends who have recently bought a yacht, a small one and they are learning to sail, having great fun. I can imagine they would love to watch your show. And the reason I say to look away from TV is that if you did want to get it made on TV, I know you didn't want to go down a celebrity route, but you will almost certainly have to bite that bullet and invite some celebrities onto your boat.
That's because TV companies are risk-averse, TV commissioners like that sparkle of celebrity magic that they think guarantees them an audience, rightly or wrongly.
If you want to get your show on TV, I would say you talked about having eight couples together at the end in a big race. I'd probably look to copy the success of shows like Bake Off. Commissioners called him a whittle because you whittle the contestants down to the last two or three at the end. So in each episode, you're gonna lose one of the couples which gives it more dynamic episode.
But good luck to you, Helen. I really enjoyed listening to your pitch for Launch. I'd say probably go the non-broadcast route. But if you're determined to go for TV, you might have to compromise a bit."
"He liked the idea. You're in command, he said it was very powerful but sailing for Steve is too niche."
"He suggested something interesting format-wise. In your pitch, you have a big kind of competition at the end, but he's suggesting whittle?"
"Yeah, No, I think he's right. Probably running it along the lines of Strictly (Come Dancing) because you can't have everybody in all the time."
Next time, "It resonates with me this idea. You're taking people on a journey. It is inspiring."