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‘Covid-proof production’: TV networks, streamers seek out show formats that can adapt to another shooting shutdown

Digiday 14 Aug 2020 04:01
August 14, 2020 by Tim Peterson

As Hollywood eases back into production while coronavirus cases rise, TV networks’ and streaming services’ interest in so-called “corona-proof” programming has taken on a new twist.

After physical production shut down in March, TV networks and streamers sought out shows that could be produced remotely, such as animated fare and documentary series that rely on archival footage and interviews shot over Zoom. But, with shelter-at-home restrictions loosened so that shows can be shot in studios and on location, networks’ and streamers’ interest in programs produced exclusively remotely “has absolutely cooled off,” said one producer. Now, networks and streamers are in search of their regularly scheduled programming — to a point.

“As cases have climbed back up, they want normal shows but for us to pitch with Covid plans,” said a second producer of recent development talks with TV networks and streaming services.

That is to say, networks and streamers want shows that are in the vein of what they usually distribute but whose productions would be minimally disrupted in the event of another production shutdown. “If you can prove you can make a show right now, they want you to,” said the first producer. That desire includes scripted series but is especially suited to unscripted shows because the latter is more adaptable to the production uncertainty, according to producers. 

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