What TV network is perfect for your show? Find out by studying their mandates.
Have you ever wondered how TV executives pick what goes on the air? Well, there are these things called "mandates." They dictate what the network thinks their audiences want and what they think pairs well with what they have on the air.
If you know what networks want, you can write things inspired by their prompts and know where your original ideas fit.
We've covered how to write a TV comedy and how to write a TV drama, but they're no use to you if networks are not buying. It's amazing that an outsider gets to see these mandates. They're usually only sent to agents and managers so they can keep an eye on what their clients are writing.
Well, that curtain has been pulled back by writer and producer Joel Eisenberg, who wrote a Medium post where he revealed almost every TV network's mandates.
Here's a tease of what you can find...
As you can see, these are detailed directives that will help you tailor your current spec into something viable on the market.
As Eisenberg puts it, "Will I get 'in trouble' for sharing this valuable tool? I’ll answer it this way: Am I concerned? No. The television business, like the film business, is the Wild West. There are no rules."
He goes on to say, "We’re all in a period in history where we don’t know what will be a day from now. If I have information such as this, I am not going to hoard it."
As dispensers of free knowledge, we're excited to share this link with you.
How can I sell my idea?
The best way to get in touch with these networks is through an agent, manager, or lawyer.
You should not let these dictate what you write, but you should view them as a guide. Don't pitch things to networks where they don't fit. Your dark coming of age story won't fly at ABC but might be at home at Hulu.
So put your nose to the grindstone and get cracking.
Welcome to the world of secret mandates.