in house

There is often talk in our comments about a broadcast network favoring shows produced by its own (i.e. “in house”) corporate production company. There’s at least anecdotal evidence that happens.

One of our readers (known to TVBTN commenters as The_GodfatherSJP) took a look at the numbers to see if there was a trend towards increasing numbers of shows produced by the big 4 broadcast corporate production houses aired on their sister networks and this is what he found.

A few things quickly became apparent:

1) ABC seems to be highly variable year to year.  I should probably look at years previous to see if this is a recurring trend.  But it seems like they actively decided to counterbalance a trend starting in 2007, namely using more and more of their own shows.  If you look at chart 2 the reason why the “percentage owned” has dropped is because they replaced a substantial number of their own shows with shows from other studios

2) Sony Studios has no luck.  I’ve yet to see any TV show they produce last longer than 2 years outside of Til ‘Death.  It explains why they bribed FOX to keep it, Til ‘Death is their most successful show over the past 5 years!

3) FOX doesn’t really like other studios outside of WB.  Except for House (NBC) and Til Death (Sony), all their other shows come from that studio.  I guess they don’t want to help their competitors.

4) I think there is a trend with NBC and CBS “owning” more of their own shows.  In CBS’s case this might be something of a fluke, we’ll have to see next year, but if you look at the charts you’ll see there’s a substantial jump from last year to this one.  As for NBC, looks like they already decided to start this in 2008.  There’s a sustained increase starting in the 2008-2009 season.  I don’t think it’s a matter of choosing to retain their own series either.  Rather, I think most of their pilots in NBC and CBS’ case for the past few years have been coming from their own studio.  They’ve been choosing their own stuff instead of pitches from other studios.

Couple of notes before you look at the spreadsheet:
1) Touchstone pictures is a division of ABC.  Anything they produce, ABC owns.  Same thing with Universal and NBC.  I assume you already know that but it’s an important point.

2) Paramount didn’t merge its TV production studio until after the 2005-2006 season.  I kept the two separate for that season, afterwards a Paramount produced show is a CBS owned one (which is born out on, my main resource).

3) Some shows have multiple networks involved, for example Life On Mars was a FOX/ABC co-production.  I’m assuming that means both corporations receive any additional revenue in such a situation, so counted such a show twice, once in the “network owned” and once in the “unaffiliated” column.  Not sure if that’s the correct thing to do and I would appreciate advice on this.

4) I discounted any reality or game shows here, and took only scripted shows into account.

Chart 1 shows the percentage of network owned shows every season (meaning of course that a network is involved in the production of a show and therefore sees syndication and dvd revenue). 12/8 Update: chart replaced with corrected version.


Chart 2 is the actual number of network owned shows. 12/8 Update: chart replaced with corrected version.

Number of Shows

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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