Increased Pilot Order Gives NBC Primetime ‘Back-Up’

By Andrew Gauthier 


NBC announced last week that it has ordered 18 pilots for production in 2010, its most in one year since 2003. While NBC has positioned the move as an effort to end seven straight seasons of declining ratings, some are interpreting the pilot push as evidence that the network’s confidence in the primetime “Leno” experiment is wavering.

The business management blog BNET points out that the increased number of pilots will give NBC some “additional wiggle room” if the network decides to cancel the show, which, according to BNET, “seems a likelihood not only because of the show’s ratings but because of the unfortunate ripple effect the show has had on local news and the network’s late-night schedule.”

Speaking to Bloomberg about the 2010 pilot order, NBC’s President of Primetime Entertainment Angela Bromstad emphasized Leno’s continued spot in the lineup. “Not having the additional five hours has certainly relieved some of the pressure,” she said, referring to Leno’s five-night-a-week timeslot.

“We have to take more swings, take more shots creatively, and have more back-up,” Bromstad added. With 18 pilots, NBC certainly has back-up if it decides to cut “Leno.”