Los Angeles was home to fewer than half of this year’s crop of television pilots, the second consecutive year less than 50 percent of the pilots were shot here, according to a study released Tuesday by FilmL.A.
Out of 202 pilots made for broadcast, cable and digital streaming in the 2014-2015 production cycle, 91 were filmed in the Los Angeles area for a value of $298 million.
A pilot is an initial episode presented to a network to determine if it will be made into a series. Traditionally the pilot season ends on May 31, but for the purposes of its study, FilmL.A. defined the development cycle as the period leading up to the earliest possible date that new pilots would air, which could fall later. FilmL.A. is a non-profit that coordinates on-location film, television and commercial permits in the city and county of Los Angeles and other jurisdictions.
One-hour drama pilots saw the biggest decline as tax-incentive programs in other states and Canada eroded production in Los Angeles. The region captured just 19 percent of those pilots, a considerable decrease from the 2006-07 development cycle when 63 percent of drama pilots were filmed in Los Angeles.
The study found that Los Angeles was still leading when it comes to comedy pilots, with 70 (or 77 percent) produced in the region for the current development cycle. That is far more than No. 2 New York, where eight pilots were shot, and three fewer than the prior cycle.
FilmL.A. calculated the $298 million production amount for all pilots filmed in the area based on the average $2 million cost for comedies and $6 million to $9 million for dramas. Roughly 30 percent of the amount spent by producers in all locations was expended in Los Angeles, according to the study.
Still, Los Angeles faces tough competition from New York, Louisiana, Georgia and other states offering tax incentive programs, as well as Vancouver and Toronto when it comes to attracting pilot production.
“One piece of good news for L.A. in 2014-15 is that, with the exception of Toronto and Louisiana, the other top competitors saw a decline in the number of pilots produced,” the study found.
A bill signed into law in September made significant changes to California’s incentive program, increasing the tax credit to $330 million a year for the next five years from the current $100 million a year. It also changed how money is doled out: Instead of a lottery system, productions will be ranked on how many jobs they create.
The state program currently gives tax breaks to 21 dramas and one comedy airing on broadcast or cable networks. The additional tax credit money was made available July 1, the beginning of the state’s fiscal year.
Another change to the program was to include dramas regardless of whether they air on broadcast, cable or digital streaming. Previously, only new basic cable and series relocating to California were eligible for an incentive.
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