Production of TV pilots drops to seven-year low in L.A., but region retains its share

Production of TV pilots drops to seven-year low in L.A., but region retains its share
An estimated $303 million was spent on production of television pilots in Los Angeles from June 2016 to June 2017, according to a new report from FilmLA. (Mariah Tauger / For The Times)

Television pilot production in Los Angeles dropped to its lowest level in seven years, but the region managed to hold on to its portion of overall pilot shoots, according to a new report from FilmLA.

Nationwide, 173 TV pilots were produced during the 12-month period that ended June 1, down nearly 14% from the previous year, according to FilmL.A., the organization that oversees film and TV permitting throughout the L.A. region.


Of those, 68 pilots — or about 39% — were produced on stages and locations in the L.A. area, the same percentage as the previous year.

But that share represents a 10-year low for pilot production in L.A., as producers continue to choose other cities, especially New York and Vancouver, Canada.

The totals include pilots made for broadcast and cable TV, as well as for digital streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Pilots are the first episodes of potential TV series.

Recent pilots to shoot in the L.A. area include the upcoming "L.A. to Vegas" on Fox; "Runaways," a Marvel Comics-inspired series coming to Hulu; and CBS' upcoming "Young Sheldon," a spinoff from "The Big Bang Theory."

An estimated $303 million was spent on pilot production in L.A. for the year, according to the report. The was a slight increase from the estimated $297 million spent the previous year, despite 11 fewer pilots being filmed in the area.

FilmLA said the increase in spending was the result in rising costs associated with production.

The drop in overall pilot shoots was due in part to a large number of renewals of existing series.

In addition, an increasing number of shows are being ordered straight-to-series, especially at Netflix. FilmLA said a total of 65 shows were ordered straight-to-series during 2016-17, up from 57 last year.

L.A. continues to hold the largest share of the pilot-production market, with New York coming in second place for the year with 24 pilots. The province of British Columbia, which includes Vancouver, came in third with 21 pilots.

But in the last 10 years, L.A. has seen its portion of pilot shoots steadily erode. The region accounted for 82% of all pilots produced during the 2006-07 period. FilmLA leaders expect to see the current level of 39% hold relatively stable in the near term.

"We'll continue to see the numbers we see now," FilmLA President Paul Audley said in an interview. "We're in a playing field that is static."



3:15 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the report.

This article was originally published at 12 p.m.