California Tops for TV in 2018, Finds FilmLA Research Report

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Today, FilmLA released a new report prepared by its research division. The 2018 Television Report offers an overview of the current production landscape for U.S. based television series and new TV projects (i.e. pilots).  In addition to quantifying California’s capture of this economically important business, the report assesses some of the trends shaping series production across broadcast, cable and digital networks.

“This report highlights the incredible economic value that television production creates, and helps explain why California’s many competitors are eager to win this business.”

Paul Audley, President of FilmLA

By FilmLA’s count, over the past two years, 467 live-action scripted series were produced by U.S. studios for the domestic market, making the 2017-18 development cycle the most productive FilmLA has observed. The number of live-action scripted series in production increased nearly 10 percent from 2016-17 to 2017-18. All the annual series count growth is attributed to digital networks.   

The influence of digital streaming services on original content development is a major focus of the report. The number of digitally distributed original series in production has increased 2,314 percent since 2010-11 on a series count basis. Digital series now comprise nearly one-fifth of all new TV projects (i.e. pilots) tracked by FilmLA.

The number of new projects ordered “straight to series” also remains high. Only four percent of new projects were ordered this way eight years ago; in 2017-18, 36 percent of new shows were ordered straight-to-series.  

Among all established production centers, California stands out as the leading destination for scripted TV. For 2017-18, 176 of 467 tracked series were produced in California, for an industry-leading 38 percent share of activity by show count. FilmLA estimates the economic value of this activity to California at more than $6.8 billion per year. Other locations are also seeing benefits from television production; series were produced in 57 different jurisdictions in 2017-18, spanning 21 U.S. states and 33 countries. 

The California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, which is available for use by pilot projects and shows picked up for series, is driving considerable job benefits for the state.  According to data shared by the California Film Commission, the current crop of state-incentivized TV series in production sustains more than 10,000 cast and crew jobs and tens of thousands of work opportunities for background performers.

California also remains competitive when it comes to attracting new projects (or pilots).  FilmLA’s report reveals that in 2017-18, 159 new projects were produced across the globe. Of those projects, 65 (21 one-hour, 44 half-hour) were filmed on California streets and stages. California’s top competitors for this work include the state of New York (with 21 projects), and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia (with 17 projects), and Ontario (with 10 projects). Outside California, competing jurisdictions are more likely to attract projects that are one-hour, vs. a half-hour, in total running duration.    

“Los Angeles is best equipped to support these projects long-term, and our efforts are focused on keeping the environment a welcoming one for filming,” Audley added. 

The 2018 Television Report, along with other reports from FilmLA Research, are available for download here (registration required):

Featured photo: John Dvorak /

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