How Does a Television Show Make It On The Air?

The first thing has to happen: someone has to have a great idea or concept. It may be a screenwriter that pitches a show idea to the right people. Sometimes, a person such a comedian may be approached because of their popularity and charisma. But what happens to the concept?  If it is a popular and unique idea, a network will allow a pilot to be made.


A pilot is a one-time deal. They use ratings to determine whether the show will be a future success. If a network decides to give the show a shot, this is where the Showrunner and Producer come in to the picture. What do they do?

The People Behind TV Series

  • Show runner-this is the person “in charge.” They coordinate the writers, scripts and manage the project. They make decisions about casting actors,deal with talent agencies or handle taped or live auditions. Many times, the showrunner is the scriptwriter.

    Producer-this is the assistant to the showrunner, and has a pretty big job to do. Producers help hire a director, crew, writing assistants. They hire set directors and cast extras.


  • Director of Photography-responsible for all the cameras, including shots, angles and managing others behind a number of cameras.
  • Editor-takes all the footage from the cameras and organizes and edits the work through video and audio.

    Foley Mixer-deals with all the sound effects

  • Gaffer-head of all technical lighting

There are many other important jobs people perform in order to make a TV series. There are extras, stylists, many assistants, runners, and caterers just to mention a few.

What Are the Other Steps Involved?

  • Location-once the cast is selected, the material is written, and every job is filled, it’s vital to find the right location for the project. The location must meet several requirements: it has to be within a budget and it needs to perfectly match the theme of the show. Securing a studio or stage offers many benefits. The weather sound and audio may be controlled. The con to this is studios aren’t always available and they are very expensive. The other option is to shoot on location. Popular places include New York, Washington D.C. and the Los Angeles area. They are known to be movie and TV industry friendly.


  • Reviews-once the pilot is completed, the network will air it. Reviews are an important piece to determine whether a show is picked up or not. Most networks will go by Neilson Ratings.

    If a TV show is picked up, a network may offer a series, which are 13 shows. If they feel confident the show will succeed, they may want a full series, which are 22 episodes. Then everyone gets to work, and hopefully produce a work of art.

So, have you finished your beer yet? I’m telling you, the world of TV production is fascinating to me. I often wondered what would have happened if I moved to Hollywood and tried my hand at my passion. But, when I look at my family, I’ve decided this passion is my hobby, and one I will always love.



Anyone who has a true passion for something usually can pinpoint when that started for him or her. For me, it began when I was a young boy, watching the sole black and white TV in our house, complete with rabbit ears for reception control and a mere three or four channels. My Dad worked long hours and my Mom discovered frozen TV dinners. I used to love eating those things,

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