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Producer

Guide
SABC Content Hub

The Art of

Pitching
Pitching
A Handbook for Independent Producers

Your South Africa. Your SABC.
Published by the SABC Ltd as a service to the growing independent production sector

pitch
verb [I or T] mainly USA
to try to persuade someone to do
something:

She pitched her idea to me over a business
lunch.
They are pitching for business at the
moment.
(from Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

pitch
the act of presenting a proposal to a
broadcaster – either in person or in
the form of a document
The word “pitch” became common practice
in the early days of cinema when studios
needed an expression of the passion that
was not always evident in written words.
“You write the words, but you pitch the
feelings.”

The Art of Pitching
Commissioned by the
SABC Content Hub
and written by
Howard Thomas

Your South Africa. Your SABC.

including any information storage and retrieval system. He is an award-winning TV producer. (2005) The Art of Pitching. films. He is a SAQA-qualified training designer. magazines and the interactive media. South Africa © SABC Ltd 2005 . assessor and quality assurance manager. South Africa Design and typesetting by Manik Design. Edited by Helene Perold & Associates. Johannesburg: SABC Content Hub. South Africa www.za All rights reserved. Auckland Park 2006.The Art of Pitching © 2005 South African Broadcasting Corporation Ltd Private Bag Xl. without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Johannesburg. and has also worked in radio. theatre. Johannesburg. Howard Thomas has worked in the entertainment industry in South Africa for nearly 40 years. No part of the publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by electrical or mechanical means.sabc. He has been writing about the industry for over 10 years and training in the industry for over 20 years.co. Recommended citation: SABC Ltd.

Producer Guide SABC Content Hub Contents Preface 1 Know yourself 4 Know the SABC Content Hub 6 1 Getting ideas 7 2 Opportunities for pitching 13 3 Defining a slot. channel and audience 14 4 Responding to a commissioning brief 21 5 Knowing what makes audiences tick 24 6 Costing the programme and defining income streams 30 7 Writing a treatment 36 8 Making the pitch 41 9 Writing a business plan 44 10 Doing the deal 47 11 Producing the programme 51 12 Delivering the programme 54 13 Marketing the programme 56 What have you learned? 58 Recommended reading 59 Glossary of terms 59 Research resources 61 Free stuff from the web 61 Web resources 61 © SABC Ltd 2005 .

or else we will forget. they may slip from the mind’s weak grasp unless fixed there by imagery and style. But first the Truth must be set free. like a mystery.” – Wole Soyinka.The Art of Pitching “For a dream image to work in life. be fully experienced as real. © SABC Ltd 2005 . We need metaphors to derive a sense of what cannot be seen or touched.” – Seneca “The truth shall set you free? Maybe. Interpretation arises when we have lost touch with images …” – James Hillman “Arguments are like eels: however logical. it must.

educates and entertains. In South Africa. As a public broadcaster. Broadcasting is very complex and all over the world. and the price it is prepared to pay. the better you get. And in some cases programmes are broadcast.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub Preface How many television programmes have you been involved in? How many never got off the ground? Plenty of productions go into development and then fizzle out. But entertainment does not work this way. Audiences decide what they want and they switch on those programmes that most appeal to them. This book is about systems. How does this happen? This booklet shows how to turn practical experience into success. there is the mistaken belief that all television programmes are commissioned. Its licence conditions influence the way commissioning briefs are framed so that programmes meet certain provisions. people think that broadcasters decide what audiences want. For example. Even more move into production and immediately go over budget. public broadcasting is the most complex type. But commissioning editors are also responding to what audiences need and want to watch on television. Everyone makes mistakes. the SABC Ltd has a mandate to deliver programming that informs. We will look at these complexities. Commissioning occurs when a broadcaster such as the SABC Ltd puts out a Request for Proposals (a commissioning brief). It draws on the experiences of successful producers all over South Africa. and prove to be an overwhelming success. what makes audiences tick. Yet many productions go ahead without a hitch. the proposed time of broadcast. This describes what type of programme the broadcaster is looking for. the target audience. but don’t draw audiences. It is about the simple principles of everyday business that can help television producers win bids and make excellent programmes. order and methods. Myths The television production environment is full of myths and misunderstandings. such as the use of language. but you can minimise risk by building on the experiences of others. and what drives a public broadcaster. Veterans in television tell us that quality comes with experience – the more you do. © SABC Ltd 2005 1 .

even a year in advance. These niche audiences often attract new and unique advertising. choice has increased more quickly than audiences have grown. Broadcasters and producers have to be open to change. There are now more channels that meet audiences’ particular (niche) needs and interests. Today there are four times as many cellular phones in South Africa as there are land lines. Today there are more TV channels and more media. This book sets the record straight. Channels accommodate 2 © SABC Ltd 2005 . The changing landscape Broadcasting has changed in South Africa and worldwide. Audiences have become segmented.The Art of Pitching Preface Does commissioning imply that broadcasters are the ones who decide what programmes audiences are going to get? No. and audiences have more choices than ever before. Cost of production Smaller television cameras and integrated production systems make it possible for fewer people to make more programmes. and how they interact with TV programmes. Technology Five years ago. quick on their feet and adventurous. production skill and business know-how. New trends Interactivity and the digital revolution have changed the ways audiences react to television. Broadcasters all over the world need more content to fill their growing number of channels. cellular telephones were a luxury. broadcasters can schedule programmes according to the tastes and interests of smaller audiences. and in general. and on their talent. to promote sound business principles in television content production. good programmes also depend on producers generating good ideas. which in turn depends on a wider variety of skilled and efficient producers. and foster partnerships between the SABC and independent producers. More choice means more opportunities for the production of new content. Niche tastes Because there are more channels available. No one knows what technologies lie ahead.

Income streams The SABC Ltd used to rely on government subsidies and advertising revenue. and come up with new. broadcasters and global distributors. They need to have a wider outlook. © SABC Ltd 2005 3 . Government money is now needed for other priorities like health and land reform. Now is the time for independent producers to shine. and so on. competitions and special promotions. clothing. Co-productions There are increasing opportunities for co-productions between African broadcasters. magazines. press and magazine articles. and have to rely on greater knowledge of the global environment. Local content Audiences are demanding more local content. the potential for our local content to reach foreign markets has increased. fresh. At the same time.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub a wider range of languages. and partnerships between producers. so the public broadcaster depends on advertising and television licence fees for most of its income. for example. through sponsorship. Producers and the SABC Ltd have unlimited opportunities to reach out to wider audiences and create additional income streams. Local co-productions have become a reality in which the broadcaster contracts the independent producer as a business partner. and make television accessible to more language and cultural groups. dolls. local ideas that draw audiences back to television and change the sometimes old-fashioned views of marketers and advertisers. Producers have to offer broadcasters innovative ways to attract income. and food). Producers are no longer just people who make the programmes. As more producers make more programmes. books. the cost of content comes down. It is constantly looking for new ways to attract income. A programme could become a broad media project which produces income from all sorts of areas: radio programming. merchandising (toys.

You have to get to know yourself and your team.The Art of Pitching Know yourself Foreign sales Programmes can be sold to broadcasters in other countries. art directors and designers. directors and producers. editors. We all have different and unique personalities. You will make better programmes if you team up with people who can bring additional talents to the production team. has come to an end. • Some people can see pictures in their mind and turn them into reality. These people are good writers. There are also many ways to bring programmes alive by interacting with the audiences. Archives Repurposing and reversioning are just two of the many trends that grew out of the need for cheaper or more cost-effective content. There are many types of programmes. These people have what it takes to become directors. but sometimes the appeal of programmes is inhibited by culture. It is important to determine which type of programmes you are best at making. “Warehousing”. many different audiences to connect with emotionally. Old programmes that lie on the shelf contain valuable material that can be re-used. Reviving old picture material can save on production costs. you will make some programmes better and more easily than you will make others. the trend is to produce different versions for domestic consumption and for foreign sales. 4 © SABC Ltd 2005 . and many ways (genres) of doing this. Know yourself When you produce a programme. Old programmes can be reversioned into different languages. you express yourself. • Some people can visualise a concept and how it will affect an audience. which affects how widely the programmes can be sold. Globally. gifts and talents. Everyone has a different role to play. or letting usable programmes rot on the shelves. For example.

List the people in the left hand column. Other skills Cultural identifications Languages fluency Marketing Technology and engineering Negotiating business deals Analysing emotions Attention to detail Editing Sound Lighting Camera Design Working with money Organising Planning Writing Research Coming up with concepts Knowing the audience Name Producers know what they do best. so that the team is not missing any essential skills. 1 2 3 4 © SABC Ltd 2005 5 . These people are good at recording and mixing sound. each of the categories is ticked at least once. and working with music. • Some people are good at business organisation. Do the following exercise to determine the talents of your team members and the roles they will play. They have what it takes to become managers. If any of the categories are blank you may need to find one or two more people who have those skills and abilities. and tick off which talents they have. production accountants and line producers. and can put together the talents of various people to make up a good team. Try to make sure that across your team.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub • Some people hear sounds in their minds and can translate them into reality.

• Also consult the Policy and Procedures for the Procurement of Local Television Programmes published by the SABC Ltd.The Art of Pitching Know the SABC Content Hub Know the SABC Content Hub The SABC Ltd has changed the way it acquires content in line with international best practice. They include genre heads. The Content Hub works with the content providers (such as independent producers) and makes sure that each channel gets the content it wants via the people best equipped to handle that acquisition. Essential reading: • Study the booklet Content is Queen for more information on content acquisition and how the SABC’s Content Hub operates. Acquisition happens in three ways – commissioning. co-production and licensing. • Consult the SABC Content Hub’s latest publication written by Qedusizi Buthelezi: Language Equity Guidelines for Television Programme-makers. have been put into one department or “Hub”. These publications are available from the SABC Content Hub at Private Bag X1. commissioning editors and members of a special projects department. 6 © SABC Ltd 2005 . Those people who are responsible for acquiring content at the SABC Ltd. Telephone +27 11 714-5969. Auckland Park 2006.

This is at the core of every manufacturing process. Once it has been worked up (in the treatment stage) and committed to broadcast (the distribution stage). © SABC Ltd 2005 7 . and television programmes are similar to manufactured goods designed for sale and consumption. where every step adds value to the previous step.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 1 Getting ideas Adding value In television production one must get used to the process of adding value. Look at the following diagram: Every concept starts off as a simple idea and this diagram shows that initially. At first the idea or concept is little more than a proposal and agreement on paper. a concept or idea on its own has little value. then it has added value. Television production follows a value chain.

In other words. Here more value is added. which audiences it wants to attract. Radio receivers are small enough to carry around.saarf. can you consider moving into actual production. People only watch when they can get to a TV set. Africa Film and TV and AV Specialist. and. Also read trade magazines such as Screen Africa. only to switch on the TV and find that someone else appears to have used your concept? If you sit and wait for a commissioning brief. Get in touch with how the channel sees itself.co. and. Discover a concept How many times have you sat around trying to come up with an idea. 1 Watch lots of TV You need to know what audiences like. They have their loglines (pay-off lines) and branding statements. more value can be added by repurposing and reversioning the content. It’s different with radio. most importantly. familiarise yourself with the type of subject matter and issues that people like to explore. Once the production has been made. You have to take the initiative and generate ideas on your own. to whom. It will be some years until we are able to watch TV on the screen of a cell phone. Here is a 10-point plan on how to generate and discover stunning ideas that could make you a lot of money. These give you an idea of what the channel stands for.The Art of Pitching Getting ideas Only once the finance is in place. Read newspapers and magazines to find out what topics they cover. its value lies in the audiences it draws. you will be left behind.za and in Screen Africa. 3 Get to know audience movements Do you know that people watch television in a pattern? You can’t change this. After your programme has been broadcast. and those they don’t like. You can get TV ratings from the South African Advertising Research Foundation’s website at www. 2 Get in touch with channel branding Every television channel has a brand. what it is saying. most of all. keep up with international news and follow the ratings of television programmes. 8 © SABC Ltd 2005 . This can help you anticipate the tastes of the public. Go to the stations’ websites and read about their branding. what it wants to be.

saarf. The scale on the vertical axis shows the percentage of available listeners and viewers. and you can find out about it at http:// www. The peak on the right shows TV consumption. which is at its highest in the morning (between 7am and 8am). shared over all the television channels. Find out how the ratings system works.htm. The graph shows that more people listen to the radio in the morning and watch TV in the evenings than at other times of the day. no more than 40% of people are watching TV.co.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub In South Africa there are just over 22-million people of all ages who are tracked as viewers. etc. LSM. South Africa has its own way of working. The graph below shows how many people watch television and listen to the radio over a 24-hour period during the week. © SABC Ltd 2005 9 . which is at its highest in the evening (around 8pm). Notice also.za/allabout. that at 9 pm at night. and what is meant by the terms AR. channel share. (Source: AMPS) The peak on the left of the graph shows radio consumption. Find out how many people there are in the TV audience that you are targeting.

even if the ideas are crazy. 10 © SABC Ltd 2005 . b. and ask yourself. others go for a run. They are simple. Generate ideas without judgment. no one is allowed to criticise an idea. variety. Just let the ideas pour out. a. then you have to work with people you trust. documentary and so on. In this step. • The share of the audience actually watching was 50%. By the way. 4 Generate ideas on your own When are you at your most creative? Some people sit quietly to dream up ideas. and delegate one person to write them all down. See it in your mind. or go for a walk in the country. After that. it means that: • 20% of the viewers who have TV were watching. Classify the ideas. “Why are they enjoying it?” Let your mind wander and write down your ideas as they come to you. So gather your colleagues and partners and start a think tank. magazine. • Since only about 40% of people with TV had their TV switched on. Don’t just think of a programme concept – actually imagine you are watching your idea on TV.The Art of Pitching Getting ideas So when a programme like Generations gets 20% of the audience at prime time. Rewrite all the ideas into genres or types of programmes. then half the audience who were watching. a 20 AR (50% share) is spectacular in any country that has a multi-channel environment. QUICK GUIDE AR is a percentage of the total viewers with TV sets. Let people throw out as many ideas as possible. Share is a percentage of the people who have their TV sets switched on at a particular time. Don’t go on for longer than half an hour. This will take another half an hour. Imagine there are people watching it. the brainstorm tends to run out of steam. Two heads are better than one. 5 Organise a think tank If you make television programmes. comedy. You should have a list that includes drama. were tuned to Generations. Do what it takes to get your mind and your imagination working. and five are even better! Follow the three rules of brainstorming.

Read newspapers and magazines. as well as books on contemporary culture. Get in touch with people you do not normally mix with. what their insecurities and aspirations are. and discuss them in detail. Listen to the radio. and what they are getting. Look for issues that are not being covered. Find out what happened in the past and what matters to people today. based on their past experiences. Talk to people. Make a short list of “Good Ideas”. the more ammunition you have. Don’t start sorting your ideas at this stage. The more ideas you have. Now go through them all. Even the bad ones are worth visiting again.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub c. It is full of useful information and ideas. “Mediocre Ideas” and “Bad Ideas”. Don’t worry about whether there is potential for making money. and find out what concerns them. Spot their tricks and techniques. © SABC Ltd 2005 11 . what they want to know about. Through satellite programming it is now possible to see the best the world has to offer. Many more people listen to the radio than watch TV. or being covered poorly. think tanks and brainstorming sessions. 7 Make a final list List all the programme ideas you have collected from your own research. and radio is often a better reflection of people’s concerns and aspirations than television. Don’t ask them what they want to see. Watch as much television as you can. etc. Find out what styles of programming global and local audiences enjoy. Rather let them talk about themselves and their lives. This is the first time the group is allowed to judge or criticise an idea. 8 Look for a gap in the schedules Go through the television schedules for all the channels again. Find out what stories people like reading. Extend your circle of acquaintances. and develop a broad understanding of the people who watch television. and see if there is a gap between what people want. Just look for the gap. 6 Get ideas from other media Read the television programme schedules and go back a year or two. Study the programmes that are shown to global markets. You may have to visit the public library to read back-copies of TV guides. Surf the Internet. Read history books. and what interesting things ordinary people are doing around the world. Keep all the ideas.

If you assume that every sale is made to a person with TV. Choose the one that seems to approach your idea. scrap the idea. extend your idea to cover all pets.The Art of Pitching Getting ideas 9 Check that there is a market in the gap You will find lots of gaps in the media menu that people have access to. there are at least six entertainment magazines that cater for the youth market. then you can safely take this as an indication of your potential TV audience. But are there enough people in that gap to make up a viable market for your programme? For instance. and work out whether the size of the market would make your programme viable. But then there may be only a handful of people who keep snakes.za.sarad. Cross the programme off the list. you may see that there are no programmes for people who like to keep pet snakes. You can also buy this data from www. 10 Define the audiences for your final list of ideas Now make up a short list of your best ideas. but are there enough people to create a market for a programme on this subject? Programmes that have a limited market often land up as specialist television and radio programmes that are broadcast late on a Sunday evening. find out its circulation. Or you may find there are no programmes for lovers of progressive jazz. For instance. 12 © SABC Ltd 2005 . Rather. If you cannot find a potential market of at least half a million people for your programme.co. which you can get from each magazine. and start looking at the audiences that are available for these ideas. Are there a lot of people who would like to watch these programmes? How do you know? What research do you have to do to find out how many people would watch your programmes? Find a magazine that caters for this group of people and look at the magazine’s circulation figures.

and if a sound business case can be made for pursuing them”. The Content Hub can issue briefs at any time. or at any time outside it. you may be proposing a co-production or a licensing agreement.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 2 Opportunities for pitching Proposals can be pitched in response to a commissioning cycle. and set out the needs of the channel for which the Content Hub genre head issues the brief.5 of the SABC’s Policy and Procedures for the Procurement of Local Television Programmes (SABC 2004:31-32). They are available from the SABC offices (Cnr Artillery and Henley Roads. For example. Responding to briefs Commissioning briefs are requests for proposals.2. Your unsolicited proposal will take a slightly different approach to a proposal that responds to a commissioning brief. Auckland Park. (SABC 2004:52) There are fixed procedures for receiving unsolicited proposals. The SABC Ltd will consider unsolicited proposals that “convincingly demonstrate competitive advantage for the Corporation. They are usually sent out by the SABC’s Content Hub as part of a cycle (find out more about these cycles in the Content Hub’s booklet Content is Queen). The briefs follow a specific format.2. Johannesburg 2092) and posted on the SABC website (www.sabc. etc. Unsolicited proposals An unsolicited proposal is one that is presented to the broadcaster at the initiative of someone outside the SABC Ltd – such as a producer. what format you should use. and to whom it should be addressed. © SABC Ltd 2005 13 . It does not rely only on its own resources for innovation and imagination. The SABC Ltd believes that the independent production community is a goldmine of untapped potential.3 and 2. unsolicited proposals do not depend on Requests for Proposals. In other words. The process for considering unsolicited proposals is outlined in sections 2. an organisation.za). Commissioning briefs are advertised and publicised widely. Check with the Content Hub how many copies of your proposal you have to make. This flexibility allows the SABC to respond quickly to audience needs.co.

The big differences lie between the age groups. gender. 16-24. 35-49 and 50+.The Art of Pitching Defining a slot. Language is an important issue in broadcasting because it increases the accessibility of programmes to different audiences. The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) can supply you with information on consumer tastes for the different age groups. Some programmes do cater specifically for male or for female tastes. 25-34. It tells you what types of products the different age groups buy. the dynamics of culture and the psychology 14 © SABC Ltd 2005 . To find out what each age group wants to watch on TV.co. race and language. start looking for the best slot on the most suitable channel. in terms of age. 1 Refine your concept according to audience age. There are differences in tastes between the language groups. if only out of curiosity. Although race is still a dimension of South African life. In South Africa. 13-15. you will have to look into consumer and entertainment psychology. but differences in taste between the genders seem to be small. we divide audiences into the following age groups: 7-12. semiotics. The SABC Content Hub has made some helpful guidelines available to producers in its new publication Language Equity Guidelines for Television Programmemakers (SABC Ltd 2005). Visit their website at www. and decide on the best audience for it. and start defining the audience for the programme. There are two genders: male and female. take the concept or the programme you have discovered.za. channel and audience If you are making an unsolicited proposal. broadcasters and advertisers prefer to define an audience in terms of their stage of life and lifestyle.saarf. gender and race Go back to your concept. This involves psychographics. but it has been shown that in most cases the other gender (the one not targeted) also watches the programme. channel and audience 3 Defining a slot.

Statistics South Africa has the language breakdowns from the last census on its website (www. this is just an average. But it is not that simple. and each audience has its own characteristics. look at the living standards of your target audience.mappp-seta. people in the lower income groups spend more on batteries than those in higher income groups. 2 Study audience movements on the channels Each channel has its own target audience. 3 Define your concept in terms of language group and LSM Now go back to your concept. You can find a helpful discussion of this information in Chapter 4 of the SABC Content Hub’s Language Equity Guidelines for Television Programmemakers (SABC Ltd 2005). whereas SABC 3 has an older audience. because it affects the type of advertising that the programme will attract. While all viewers collectively have a pattern of behaviour. older people tend to stay at home on Friday and Saturday nights. These figures will give you a good idea of how many people speak each language and where they live. black target audience.co. It is in the interests of the channel to make this information available. but your business partners and the commissioning editor will want to know this information. You can get information on channel audiences from the channels themselves. The book also contains important guidelines on how to approach the issue of language use for South African audiences.co. In reality.htm. whereas younger people go out on these evenings.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub of consumer behaviour. as it may help producers to come up with a concept for a hit programme for their channel. Different income groups spend money on different products. Next. That’s because they have less access to electricity. This is not as important as the age group that your concept appeals to. © SABC Ltd 2005 15 . There are short courses on offer from many of the outcomes-based training bodies – watch industry newsletters or consult the Film and Electronic Media Chamber of the MAPPP-SETA at www.za). programmes targeted at wealthier markets attract advertising for costlier products. Obviously. For example. SABC 1 has a largely young.statssa.za/fem. and SABC 2 has a varied and diverse audience. people in different age groups do things differently. Younger people are at home in the afternoons. and decide which language your programme should be produced in.

16 © SABC Ltd 2005 . There are now 10 LSMs. The following table gives you the approximate monthly household income for each group and the percentage of the population included in that group. LSM 1 Monthly Income in Rands 879 % population 9.). Sometimes you will want to appeal to the most people.The Art of Pitching Defining a slot.7 5 2 427 13. 4 Study the past performance of similar concepts Go back through television schedules and look for programmes in a similar genre to your programme. C.7 3 1 408 14. the present system suits the marketers who buy the advertising time. we divide people into groups according to what they spend money on. and at other times you will want to appeal to all the people in a small group. will tell you if you are on the right track towards a profitable project. channel and audience In most western countries.8 9 11 566 5.1 2 1 068 12. We call our groupings Living Standards Measurements (LSM).9 10 18 649 5.0 4 1 774 14.3 These figures change every year. By now. Your business plan (discussed in section 9). people are divided according to how much they earn (income groups A. etc. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that TV programmes have to appeal to rich people in order to make good advertising revenue. We have very good reasons for doing this: our society is skewed by historical imbalances. It is possible that this may change in line with international trends. The LSM groupings roughly follow income. with a similar format or emotional appeal. In South Africa.2 8 8 471 4. B. but not necessarily so. and programmes that used the same or similar performers. Keep up to date with the latest data from South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF).1 6 4 075 14. but for the moment.0 7 6 455 6. you should have a good idea of your target audience.

and there is always the danger of “using them to death”. The partners gain a sense of security by looking at past experience and finding a precedent for the idea you are proposing. Big names come at a high price. • The type of advertisements that the programme attracted. 1. (See “Research resources” on page 61. You want to go into production when you are ready. 2. There are also disadvantages to using unknown performers. In your research. This information is also helpful when negotiating with the SABC Ltd and the project partners.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub This is always a useful indication of how audiences will take to your concept. You can own the programme from the start and make money out of them once you have helped them establish their names. did the advertising revenue grow during the run. They are more available. Audiences feel secure with names they can trust. not when the performers are ready. 3. the rate at which it grew. © SABC Ltd 2005 17 . and you have to persuade them to risk their time to watch performers they don’t know. How many ads were sold in each episode. Are any of them suitable for your programme? The chances are they may not be suitable because it is very difficult simply to “migrate” performers. Remember that people are giving up their valuable time to watch your programme. especially the age and LSM demographics. find the following data: • The audience that the programme attracted. and the point at which the audience growth levelled off. • How long the programme ran for. It’s cheaper.) 5 Look for performers that your audience will like Make a list of the performers that have already been used. 1. You can buy all this data from one of the ratings agencies. and what type of advertisements did the programme attract? You can take a good guess at the advertising revenue by multiplying the number of ads by 60% of the Rate Card cost. There are good reasons to look for new talent. • Whether the audience increased during the run of the programme. The remaining 40% takes into account the cost of sales and an estimate of the discounts offered by the broadcaster.

If it is on a downward path. you always have a choice of who to sell it to. There are always at least two channels with a suitable profile that you can approach with your concept. However. Look carefully at the growth of the channel over the past year. it is easier to get people who are already at home and watching TV to change channels. or if she/he will be able to sustain the performance. a competitor channel may be attracted to your concept in order to steal that audience away. It is easier to steal an audience than to create a new audience. If something else offers them marginally more satisfaction. if your concept is strong enough.The Art of Pitching Defining a slot. you don’t know how they will handle fame and fortune. Remember: if your concept and business plan are good. they stick where they are comfortable. In a multi-channel environment. 6 Study the past record of the channel you have selected. You know the target audience. channel and audience 2. In other words. than to get people to go home and switch on the TV. Also. people can also be fickle. Have there been changes in management? If the channel is on a growth curve. Never choose a slot that already has a long-running programme taking the majority share in that slot. it will be looking for new programming that meets the rising expectations of its audience. So don’t count on channel loyalty. then they have the upper hand. 7 Look for the ideal slot When does your target audience watch television? This is easy to find out. and any of the ratings agencies can search for the exact profile of your audience and tell you how many of them are watching and when. You may have more trouble on your hands than it is worth. you are a newcomer. having said that. People are conservative. however. if you are fighting a strong programme on another channel. the manager will be desperate for new and fresh material. Broadcasters are like predators. If they make it into the big time. it is going to cost a lot more in marketing to get people to change what they are used to. 18 © SABC Ltd 2005 . You don’t know if an unknown performer will be able to perform as you want. But. you can afford to choose your channel. If. as you do not have a track record. they will change. 3.

They can chat on their cell phone. You want audiences to watch your programme. with the audience profile and the growth of the audience. It deals with the techniques you can use to estimate what audiences will do. That means that your programme has to enter a commercial break on a strong note. but rather for attention. or spend quality time with their families and friends. 9 Estimate your potential audience Go back to the six-month tracking that you did in the previous step. This will give you a good idea of the type of programming that has grabbed their attention. They also know what audience movements © SABC Ltd 2005 19 . You also want an audience breakdown within your target audience. “Scheduling” is a highly specialised subject. you will get a realistic idea of your starting audience with minimum marketing. They can go down the road to the tavern. based on their track record. If you take the average between the highest audience and the lowest audience over the past six months. You are fighting for audience attention. from channel to channel. The media are not fighting for loyalty. This is the customer service the broadcaster offers the advertisers. audiences have many choices about how to spend their leisure time. also look at a history of all the other channels at the same time and on the same days. Go back at least six months. Study the programmes and watch how people have moved from one programme to another. or they can listen to the radio. and see how the channels have drawn the audience away from each other over the past six months. and to keep watching during the commercial breaks. However. They can read the newspaper or a magazine. You will make better programmes if you learn from the SABC Ltd how to best understand your audience. They can watch TV. A word about “attention”. or they can read a book. Free-to-air television is faced with people who can change channels with a flick of the remote control. so that the audience is wary of changing channels during the break in case they miss the start of your programme after the break.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 8 Study the past performance of the slot Any of the ratings agencies will give you a history of a particular slot. Content Hub commissioning editors know their business and their audiences. surf the Internet. Today.

you should also choose at least two other slots that you have in mind as the “first fall-back position” and the “second fall-back position”. or the same time slot on another channel. which is simpler. channel and audience have been across the channels over the past year or so. then you must understand the audience as well as the SABC Ltd understands them. If you are planning a daily programme. If you are going to negotiate with the SABC Ltd on an equal footing and as a potential business partner. 10 Look for fall-back slots and estimate their audience potential Your main strategy before you go into a negotiation is to go for the slot you really want. rather go for a commissioning relationship. after you have found the slot you really want. then your fall-back positions should be the slots on either side of your first choice. But if the broadcaster has plans you do not know about. If you are not ready for the complexity of partnering or co-production. This is known as the “fall-back position”. 20 © SABC Ltd 2005 . So. you may have to accept a slot that is second-best.The Art of Pitching Defining a slot.

You should never just read a brief. then satellite pay-TV is definitely a competitor. Go to the SABC website and check the channel branding again. The SABC Content Hub spends a lot of time. Memorise the channel’s logline (pay-off line). It tells you a lot about the look and feel of the channel. Make sure you know enough to be able to understand exactly why the brief was issued. 2 and 3. experience. Have another look at the schedules for SABC 1. There are also commercial requirements to earn income to subsidise the mandate. study it carefully. demographics and cultural viewpoints the channel focuses on for its audience. Read it again. and also the branding of all competitor channels that audiences receive. Have it clear in your own mind what style. knowledge and energy on writing and issuing briefs. Before you even think of whether you have the right concepts for the brief. so study them carefully. © SABC Ltd 2005 21 . The SABC Ltd is part of the competitive environment and must attract audiences from the competitive channels. it is important to spend some time on carefully reading that brief. If you are thinking about making a programme for the upper income groups. Here are 10 things to look out for in the brief: 1 For which channel is the programme intended? Go to the SABC website and check the branding of the channel. and then “read through it”. Now go and check out the other SABC channels. Look at how they arrange their schedules. There are demands on the SABC Ltd in terms of the public mandate.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 4 Responding to a commissioning brief Are you responding to a commissioning brief issued by the SABC Content Hub? If so. 2 What does the working title tell me? What can you read into the title of the brief? Does it convey any clues or atmosphere? Working titles can contain a lot of information.

They choose TV from an enormous amount of competitive media. and how the schedulers of the channel see the attention span of the audience at that time. then the broadcaster probably expects the programme to attract advertising. Every word and the way it is written in a commissioning brief is deliberate. 22 © SABC Ltd 2005 . that commissioning editors don’t commission what they personally like. then maybe the price is low as it is part of the public broadcasting mandate and is subsidised. If it is scheduled for “off peak” broadcast. 5 Guide pricing? If the price is high. 4 What does the place in the schedule tell me? Does the brief specify a specific broadcast time or is it vague. and choose to watch TV over many other private activities they could be doing. 7 Who is the commissioning editor? What sort of work has this commissioning editor handled before? Can past performance give you a guide to the type of programmes that appeal to this person? Remember. Never forget that people watch TV out of choice.The Art of Pitching Responding to a commissioning brief 3 What does the duration tell me? The duration tells you a lot about the audience. 6 Language? What language is specified? What is the size and demographics of this language group? Can you speak the language? Look carefully at whether your team has the capacity to produce and deliver programming in the specified language(s). If you’re not sure whether you can do it. Remember that schedulers broadcast 60-minute programmes only when they are sure that the audience has a spare hour to spend in front of the TV. commissioning editors are assigned to programmes and genres that they are good at handling. how does this compare with the position on the schedule? If the programme is at prime time when advertising is costly. rather. saying something like “early evening”? Or is there no time mentioned? This may be deliberate. go back to the section “Know yourself” and find a way of bringing these skills into your team.

Keep this list with you whenever you are discussing the concept with other team members. and focus on what the SABC Ltd needs. You can find more information about these licensing conditions from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) by visiting their website at www. so that you have plenty of time to check it? Will you be able to assemble and commit a team by then? 9 Current affairs? What’s going on in the environment. in the world and in South Africa that may have motivated this programme? How can you link into current developments to give your proposal an added “hook”? 10 Other clues? What is the regulator. youth culture. or with people you will need to associate with. in the world of fashion.za. © SABC Ltd 2005 23 . This will help you to stay on course.org.icasa. the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). up to at the moment? How is this commissioning brief related to regulatory changes? Remember that the broadcasting licence for SABC Ltd is being renewed in 2006 and new regulations have been developed. What about changes in audience tastes. make a list on a separate piece of paper of all the requirements both stated and implied in the brief.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 8 Closing date? Can you get the proposal ready well before the closing time. and other current matters? When you have read the brief.

They buy television programmes the same way they buy any other product. They also forget they need to find out how the audience received their programme. Here’s a simple overview of what you will find in the many books on the subject. Even if one doesn’t pay out money each time one switches on the television set. just as they use any other consumer product. This is a mistake many producers make. people spend time and money on television. but it is important to remember the model. It does not come free. a message. Who Communicator Says what Message In what Medium To whom Receiver With what Effect Reaction. It’s a mixture of many.The Art of Pitching Knowing what makes audiences tick 5 Knowing what makes audiences tick The audience is very complex and a professional producer should be an expert on the subject. The subject is not only about psychology or sociology. So watching TV is a choice. consumer behaviour and audience psychology. communications and economics. 2 The uses of television Television is a product that people use. marketing. feedback 1 Basic communication There is not much about basic communications theory that is essential to production. What is important to know is that there is no communication without a sender. many disciplines and involves culture. a receiver and feedback. viewers are giving up other things to spend valuable time watching TV. 24 © SABC Ltd 2005 . They are so excited about their concept that they forget they need an audience. People don’t have to watch TV. Also.

There could also be psychological damage as a result of the content. or may not understand it and feel a fool. to fulfil your aspirations. • Psychological risk – this happens when there is damage to the viewer’s self-esteem.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub Like all consumer products. Esteem needs include the need to look good both in your own eyes and in the eyes of others. Social needs are the need to talk to others. people cannot meet their needs higher up in the triangle until the basic needs lower down have been satisfied. Our basic needs are physiological (the need for food and water). and will be like any other machine that is not in working order. for example excessive sex or violence. esteem and self-actualisation needs. Safety needs (shelter. Television cannot provide for our basic needs. television does satisfy the other needs in the hierarchy. Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs Selfactualisation Esteem Social Safety Physiological Self-actualisation needs include the need to advance. Remember. and make your dreams come true. However. • Social risk – this happens where the viewer may be embarrassed in front of others. 3 How does television satisfy people’s needs? We buy consumer products to satisfy needs. be with and share with others. television carries risks for the viewer: • Performance Risk – the risk that the TV set may not work. for instance where s/he may be offended by the programme. to communicate with. Television plays a large part in meeting social. © SABC Ltd 2005 25 . These needs are simple and are explained in this diagram: Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. such as when they do not know the answers in a quiz show. clothing and security) are also basic needs.

This is why listening to and telling stories has been a popular pastime and one of the best ways of learning since the beginning of time. Stories are accounts of how real people have dealt with life’s challenges. Entertainment is storytelling that teaches the audience something. That’s why people listen to stories. Disgust 6. A quiz show tells a story. rather than change to what they don’t know. 5 What is entertainment? Entertainment is much more than offering diversion. By listening to stories. people learn strategies to survive change. relaxation or taking someone’s mind off their problems. even if it may be better. Very few people welcome or look forward to change.The Art of Pitching Knowing what makes audiences tick 4 How do people use entertainment to develop survival strategies? The only thing that is certain in life is that there will be change. Sadness/Grief 5. 6 Touching emotions with entertainment Entertainment works by telling a story that touches the emotions of people. Surprise 7 What is culture? Culture is the way people say and do things within their communities. the more people it will appeal to. Because people fear change. Stories are true-life examples on how to deal with things that could happen to you. Entertainment helps people understand themselves. It is probably the most important thing that makes a television programme 26 © SABC Ltd 2005 . Individual people get out of each story what is meaningful to them. Most people believe that it is better to live with what they know and don’t like. Fear/Anxiety 3. A soccer match tells a story. The more universal the story. A song tells a story. There are six emotions: 1. Joy/Happiness 2. they like to build up stores of information that will tell them how to deal with the unknown should it happen to them. Anger 4.

People also want to experience things from different points of view. They want to be part of something exciting. Values are extremely difficult to change and differences in values account for much of the conflict that exists between people. and also in line with their values. something new. If a programme is to be successful. They want to “experience” a programme that will teach them something about themselves. then they will tune in. The stronger the emotions involved. Think about the effort they expend watching a game. Just look at what sports fans know about a sport. quiz shows are conflict. They shout and scream until they are exhausted. Culture and language are closely related and the SABC Content Hub’s publication Language Equity Guidelines for Television Programme-makers (SABC Ltd 2005) provides some helpful guidelines on how to treat language and culture in South African television programmes. The more they have to invest in a programme emotionally. audiences must remember it. they will watch the next one. Television must be directed to the culture of the intended audience. Sport is conflict. Stories are about resolving conflict. they make a huge effort to know the rules of the game and details about the players. 1. whether it will mean something to you or not. If they liked your last documentary. 2. and drama is made up of conflict. That’s what you want them © SABC Ltd 2005 27 . We are brought up in a certain culture and that culture will remain with us forever. 3. in their language(s). Attitudes are easier to change. intellectually and physically. we need something with which we can identify. But we are also curious about other cultures. the longer the memory lasts.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub successful. 9 Experience Experience is important from three points of view. 8 An audience’s values Every culture has its own values. Audiences are guided by their previous experiences. the more they will enjoy it. Individuals within that culture have attitudes. It’s “where our hearts and minds are coming from”. It is very difficult to shake off. Before we can enjoy the content in a story. They want to take part. If they know and like the performers. Culture dictates whether you will find a story offensive or not. That’s what culture is.

We also use different media to market each other (“cross-media marketing”) and excite audiences about the programme. And now with interactive technology. 28 © SABC Ltd 2005 . We want people to act – to DO something. We want them to switch on the TV and watch our programme. and watch it with such attention that they keep watching right through the commercial breaks. Then we work through their values and culture and their attitudes. We start off with the culture. we create memories. personality and experiences of the target audience. and we communicate with them through their emotions. There are two reasons why you want people to remember your television programme. press. 10 Creating memories “We are scientists engaged in the creation of memories” is the way one film director describes the role of television programme-makers. In the process. you could offer the audience hiking trips that they can do themselves. If it’s a children’s programme. Do whatever you can to reinforce the long-lasting nature of the memories that the programme has created. There are many ways of getting an audience to remember a programme. We do this with marketing. And we give them an opportunity to enjoy spending money on the merchandising. you could sell toys made from the characters. magazine and Internet experiences that tie in with the programme. 11 How it all fits together What is contained in the last ten steps does not exist on its own. Firstly. Take a look at the diagram on the next page. you want them to tell their friends about it so that they will watch the next one. They make an appointment with the programme. We offer audiences radio. audiences can take part in some television programmes by sending in their comments while the programme is on air. We also want them to take part in all the other activities we have designed for them. you want them to watch it again. apart from making it so emotionally compelling that they have a wonderful experience and get totally wrapped up in it. If the programme is about hiking through the Sahara Desert. and secondly. It’s all part of a bigger picture.The Art of Pitching Knowing what makes audiences tick to do during your television programme. which gets audiences so excited that they change their personal schedules just to watch the programme.

© SABC Ltd 2005 29 .Producer Guide SABC Content Hub As the producer. enjoy it. experience it. tell their friends about it and watch every programme that has your name attached to it. your objective is to get the target audience to engage with the programme.

Follow these steps. you will have a reasonable idea of the budget. so you will take the total cost and divide it by the total duration of the programme to arrive at a cost per minute. For instance. Of course. a manager. When it comes to calculating the cost of the programme. Each source of money is called an “income stream”. a negotiator. you are not expected to be a chartered accountant. the channel will buy time from itself for its own promotional spots (promos). Magazine programmes will be in the range of R1 000 to R2 000 a minute. He or she is an accountant.The Art of Pitching Costing the programme and defining income streams 6 Costing the programme and defining income streams The television producer has many faces. and it will calculate the cost of this time at the same price as advertisements (this is known as the “Rate 30 © SABC Ltd 2005 . In South Africa. To do so. a lawyer. Soap operas and sitcoms come out at R4 500 to R6 000 a minute. Then you have to work out all the money that the concept or project can possibly earn. In this section. you will probably not leave anything out. foreign programming averages around $100 a minute. just as you will employ the services of an entertainment lawyer. you need to include the cost of marketing. estimate and do cash flow projections. we measure the cost of programming as a cost per minute. Once you have estimated all the production costs (including pre-production and post-production costs). If you follow the headings and the items. 1 Roughly cost the programme You can get standard budget forms from the SABC Content Hub. Documentaries cost between R2 500 and R4 000 a minute. as it is a complex process. you are going to learn how to work out whether a concept is financially viable. you have to find out what a programme will cost to make and to market. This is difficult to estimate. By comparison. a controller. You will probably employ the services of a chartered accountant to verify the work your bookkeeper does. a leader. But you still have to be able to budget. and foremost – someone who knows their audience. We now come to the accountancy part of producing. Drama can cost R8 000 to R15 000 a minute. Talk shows can cost as little as R400 a minute.

This will give you a rough guide. What you are doing here is defining them. The channel may also advertise on radio and in the press. There may also be competitions involved which will be part of the marketing budget. the best you can do at this stage is to make provision for the marketing. So take the number of slots (2 per minute) and multiply that by the Rate Card. So your final calculation will look like this: Production costs Provision for marketing R a X 0. the cost is high. Put aside 20% of the production costs for marketing. by the time these additional costs have been paid (called Cost of Sales). additional income streams should be part of the original concept. © SABC Ltd 2005 31 . 3 Define the income streams Apart from advertising revenue. Remember that the SABC Ltd offers discounts to their major advertisers and also pays their sales personnel commissions. or 4 minutes per half-hour). and now you have to find them. Try to estimate how many advertisers will buy up the allotted advertising time (8 minutes per hour. To estimate the advertising revenue for a slot. there is probably only 60% of the Rate Card cost left for the channel. If the promos are broadcast during prime time.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub Card Cost”). If you hadn’t thought of them. Since you don’t know what marketing will cost until you write the marketing plan. Lots of prime time programmes are now being advertised on billboards (known as “Outdoor” advertising). You can get Rate Cards directly from the SABC TV Sales. based on the Rate Card for that slot. So. then go back to “Discover a concept” on page 8. you need to be guided by the track record for the slot you want. A good guess is that you will sell half the advertising slots.2 Estimated costs 2 Ra Rb R a+b Estimate the advertising revenue To estimate the advertising revenue. use this very conservative “guesstimate”: Half the number of available slots x 60% of the Rate Card. You will find the steps to write a marketing plan in Section 13 on page 56. what other money could the project earn? At this stage.

or even housing developments? 10. Remember. Could you do a deal with a magazine whereby the content is mirrored in the magazine and on television? Here you could sell discounted advertising packages and even increase the advertising revenue. 2. they can generate extra money or reduce marketing costs. garden centres. or linked to other books. What about radio? Could you do a radio version of the programme to be broadcast on radio during radio peak-time? Is there a deal you can do with complementary programming? 8. with careful planning. just as arms and legs are to the body. then you could do a deal with the cell phone service provider where at least a third of the cost of the phone call goes to the project. What about retail outlets other than shopping centres? Could you do a deal with petrol stations. personal improvement. potential partners will always ask: “What’s in it for us?” 7. The Internet works well as a limited and relatively low-cost marketing tool. Could the programme be made into a book. 6. food. What about marketing through the Internet? Think hard about this one. 3. cosmetics.The Art of Pitching Costing the programme and defining income streams Income streams should be a natural part of the concept. can you come out with a label of designer clothing? Are there opportunities to sell travel. they are interactive and. or even financial services? 4. restaurants. Few people in South Africa (or the world for that 32 © SABC Ltd 2005 . What about shopping centres? Could you run promotions or moneymaking opportunities in shopping centres on the days before and after the broadcast of the television programme? What about using shopping centres to create new merchandising opportunities? 9. What could be sold as a consumer product? Can you sell the programme brand to a fast food chain? Can toys or dolls be made and sold? What about games? If the show is glamorous. Ask yourself some of these questions to guide you: 1. How can you get the audience to phone in? If you have a cell phone number that they can phone in to. interior decor. What sort of deal could be done with a newspaper? You can find lots of opportunities if you imagine yourself in their business. Are there opportunities for competitions? Competitions give the audience a sense of participation. or help to sell books that are already published? 5. cars.

Make sure you work with a successful expert on this one. Always get advice from three independent sources (as well as your lawyer and accountant) before you make a decision. If you are going after big names. Find out (by phoning the agents) what these performers will cost you. Is the project generating many income streams? If so. Check that it makes sense as an overall picture. it’s a useful tool to reach the 7% of the people who use it. This is a fundamental rule. 10% is 10 times better than 0%. But. is it worth increasing the provision for marketing? Get expert business advice on this matter. the cost of performers could be very high and you may need to make changes to the production budget. At the same time. Have you left anything out? Do you need to add something to the production to make the income streams possible? There is no sense in expecting an income stream to make money if you have not financed it properly. 7 Do a cost and income statement Add up all the costs in one column. which you could get a slice of? It doesn’t matter what an income stream earns you. You have to spend money to make money. Check the budget against the provision for marketing and the list of income streams. if you are using big names. What about a column in a magazine supposedly written by the star? What could it earn? Could it attract advertising to the magazine. If it earns more than it costs. ask yourself how they could work for the project and generate more income streams. 4 Define the performers and their costs Make a final decision on the performers you will use. 5 Check your marketing costs You are now in a position to revisit the estimates of the marketing costs you did in the original budget. Make sure that the costs and income relate to the same period © SABC Ltd 2005 33 .Producer Guide SABC Content Hub matter) have made serious money from the Internet. and add up all the income in another column. it makes a profit. Many producers use the services of business advisors on such matters. 6 Refine the budget Go back to the budget and check it again. Even if you are in for just 10% of that profit.

The Art of Pitching Costing the programme and defining income streams of time. or choose another concept. They probably don’t know what Afrikaans is. You would have to rewrite and change the commentary for an international audience. from the time that the deal is signed until the end of the project. in which case the commentary might say. All projects make and cost different amounts of money at different stages of their duration. But this statement would mean nothing to people in Germany or Scotland. home of the ostrich feathers. You can’t just phone an international distributor and ask her to estimate the global sales potential of your programme. But this is highly unlikely.” You may find that there is not enough picture material to carry the commentary. That is why you decide at a very early stage of the concept whether you are going to have to make provision for an international re-edit and an international track (IT). Then the picture has to be extended. get together and celebrate their culture in the historical town of Oudtshoorn. 8 Look at foreign sales potential Could this project sell abroad as it is? In this case a foreign broadcaster may buy the master tapes and subtitle or dub them into a foreign language. then subtract the costs from the income. What could the programme earn in foreign sales? Only an international distributor can tell you this. Distributors generally will only do this for producers they know personally and can trust to deliver good projects. 34 © SABC Ltd 2005 . go back to “Discover a Concept” and start the process again. in a local documentary or travelogue it would be perfectly acceptable to refer to “the Afrikaans cultural festival in Oudtshoorn”. If you have a positive figure. If you have a negative figure. An exercise like this takes a lot of work. It is best to take the total period. the people who speak Afrikaans. it is called PROFIT. “Every year. which means a re-edit. Once you have the totals. it is called a LOSS. Top producers travel every year to MIP TV and MIPCOM in Cannes to meet and network with the international distributors. If you land up with a loss. For instance. a language descended from Dutch. who or where Oudtshoorn is. or what. Local programmes can rarely be translated for international cable and satellite stations.

Make sure that. List all the possible partners. It is your secret weapon. who else is an integral part of the action? What about a main sponsor? What about a branding and merchandising partner? What about a cell phone company or even a large retailing group? What about another media company? Your project defines all the natural partners. Look at the costs and the income streams. hide it away and don’t let anyone else see it. and can network with her. in each case. then the project partners are natural parts of the whole project. 9 Divide the cost and income between possible partners Now you have to do another thumb-suck “guesstimate”. Firstly. and you have to invest time and effort in creating these relationships. Now. If you have created a project that is integrated and well proportioned. It takes relationships to get there. © SABC Ltd 2005 35 . Look at the categories of costs and the categories of income streams and assign them to possible partners. Write these figures down on a piece of paper. each partner’s income exceeds the costs s/he is incurring. Then there’s the contribution to the total costs provided by the SABC Ltd. then it’s simply a matter of a sending the project to her and she will send you a schedule of international sales estimates. there are your costs.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub Once you know a distributor.

Commissioning editors are attracted to proposals that make sense to the audience. If you follow the steps carefully. Rewrite 36 © SABC Ltd 2005 . “The programme begins . Producers are NOT scriptwriters. it could be 30 or 40 pages. and therefore not thought through. Scripts draw in audiences. then write it out act by act. describe what happens. If it’s a drama. If you don’t know where to start.The Art of Pitching Writing a treatment 7 Writing a treatment It is well known in entertainment that a lot more work goes into writing a treatment than writing a script. • It makes you research and develop the concept as you go along. If it’s a drama. They are treatment and business plan writers. If it’s a game show. make business sense. 2 Write the one-pager What you have already written is part two of the treatment. • It is a checklist. you will avoid the common mistake of putting together concepts that are not researched. Now write part one. then open with the words. If it’s a game show or magazine programme you will probably fill about 3 pages. Treatments and business plans draw in investors and partners. Write this out in full. make sense to the channel. you will learn how to write a document that will get the SABC Ltd and all the potential business partners excited. which makes you check yourself. then write the story that the documentary will tell. then state what the programme is trying to say as a whole and the type of subjects it will feature. The sequence flows logically. In this step.” If it is a documentary. When you go through it. It makes you repeat certain actions. not developed.. which is a one-page cover page for the whole package. not focused. and fit nicely into the schedule and the SABC’s mandate. 1 Write the story Write a description of what the viewers will see.. If it’s a magazine programme. This treatment procedure has evolved from the common practices of successful producers. notice some important things: • It is systematic.

right away! Force the reader to turn the page and read on with anticipation. We use the word “logline”. and don’t use clichés like “Don’t miss it”. Furthermore. it’s the four or five words that go on a movie poster to draw in the crowds. then they will read the rest. the draw-card performer. In 5-6 words. genre and target audience. including a heading that gives the title. That leaves you with just 250 words to get your message across in. and often the two-liner that you wrote in the last step is too long. This is going to take you a long time as well. Commissioning editors. © SABC Ltd 2005 37 . If you are very clever. So write a logline of just ten words. make sure that it is written in a way that describes why the audience will be excited. 4 Now write the logline In Hollywood.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub the story in just one page. 3 Write the TV Guide entry Now write the two-line entry that the press will use to describe the programme in the “TV Guide”. but the statement must include the genre. Imagine you are writing the words that will go on an outdoor billboard that advertises your programme. but what it will do for the audience. Basically. logline (see step four below). we call it a prime benefit statement. So the challenge is to pack every bit of excitement into the first page. There’s the title of your programme. and a reason why the audience should drop everything to watch the programme. That’s cheating. Imagine it. Many producers still make the mistake of trying to make this page a semilegal document with conservative formality. What’s in it for the audience? Tell them why must they drop everything to watch the programme. Writing the first draft of the one-pager will take some time. And underneath it in small print is a description of two lines long. describe not what the programme is about. All they are usually prepared to do is read the first page. This is very important. you will add in an appetiser of what’s in it for the broadcaster and the business partners. marketing managers and investors get these things all the time. Don’t! Make it exciting! Grab the reader! Make the reader want to know more. they have a concept called the “High Concept Line”. That limits you to 20 words. If that grabs them. Try not to be cheap and silly. In sales terminology. The poster seldom applies to marketing in television.

The Art of Pitching Writing a treatment 5 Write the story treatment You now have to go back. Describe the soul. 38 © SABC Ltd 2005 . Why do you want a branding statement for your programme? Usually you don’t want one for a drama unless it is going to be the hottest thing in merchandising. the TV Guide entry and the one-pager. and the essence of your programme. Branding statements are the three or four words that you see under the name of a TV channel. the spirit. check that the story was written properly. and this time do it so that it follows naturally from the logline. and you are looking to brand all three elements with the same branding as the TV programme. but all the other elements as well. and re-write the story that you started with in the first step above. This will draw each one towards the other. and you want to brand the whole project – not only the TV drama. Describe the universal feeling the viewer feels after watching the programme. But you will want a branding statement on any project where there are more than three elements (such as the programme itself. Banks and other companies make good use of loglines that are also branding statements. and saying “Beauty’s being”. and show consumers they are all connected. associated printed matter and merchandising. which is a rare occurrence. Starting with the logline. The branding also brings you closer to the channel’s own branding. then going on to the TV Guide entry and finally to the one-pager. or intend to buy from anyone else? The work is only entirely yours if you created everything from nothing. What you wrote then was just a guide. or perhaps even radio spin-offs). You will probably have to write it all over again. 7 Do a rights schedule Are there any parts of the concept that you have bought. It’s like the difference between describing a beautiful woman as “The most devastatingly beautiful creature I have ever seen”. So. write it again. 6 Write a branding statement This may or may not be the same as the logline. What do these phrases say? They describe in words the personality of the product.

© SABC Ltd 2005 39 . Will you be buying footage from a stock shot library. play. 3. This data will have cost you some money and by doing this research you show you are willing to “put your money where your mouth is”. film or other TV programme? What have you negotiated with the original owners? 4. This section should be quite short. 2. Will you be filming newspaper headlines? 8 List similar programmes broadcast in the past Go back to all your audience research and summarise similar programmes that you have managed to track down. The rights ownership of any specially composed music. even if it’s only the background music you intend to lift off a mood music CD. Here are some of the things you may have to put in the rights schedule: 1. the sound designer will fill in a copyright form and apply for a licence. describing how a similar target audience received them.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub There are bound to be things that you have bought from some other source. or with that person’s descendants? 5. or using archive photographs? 8. Will you be using any graphic art that you have not commissioned yourself? 7. the fees for which must be included in the budget. Will you be shooting the production on private property or using property belonging to anyone else? What have you negotiated with the owners of the property? 6. It is there to show that you are serious about research. Mood and background music. Was the concept adapted from a book. When that music is recorded. Is it a true-life story? What have you negotiated with the person on whose experiences the programme is based.

and themes that may offend the morals or religious beliefs of people. A rights schedule. A track record of similar programmes. a half hour is 26 minutes and a two-hour movie runs for 104 minutes. 6. A logline and branding statement. 3. 8 Is it an internal or external story? Broadcasters prefer programmes that have some action. A title page that includes: a. 9 Is the duration realistic? You will find it impossible to place a programme that runs for 65 minutes. Ask yourself: Does it read well? Does it look professional? Does it give the full story and the full picture? Make sure you put your name and date on every page in the “footer”. A treatment. the income streams and the profit and loss statement? 2 If your project is a drama. Genre c. 6 Have you cast the production realistically and affordably? 7 Is the theme or story high-profile? If it’s in the news. Your personal contact details 2. Check that you have: 1. Duration d. excessive violence. the broadcaster and potential partners will spot it quickly and you will damage your credibility. This is enough to copyright your material in your name. rather than just the thoughts and feelings of people. it’s easy to sell. 10 Have you understated the costs and overstated the income because you are pas- sionate about your concept? If you have. have you done descriptions of the characters. and is the lead character strong and well-defined? 3 Does the storyline and one-pager make it clear what you are trying to say? Is your intention clear? 4 Will the project uplift or depress audiences? 5 Is the content suitable for national television? Broadcasters tend to resist unhappy endings. 4. 250-word enticing and exciting summary. Remember a TV hour is 52 minutes.The Art of Pitching Writing a treatment 9 Final checklist Now go through this list and check it off against anything you may have forgotten: Yes No 1 Do you have a summary of the budget. 5. Proposal reference number e. 40 © SABC Ltd 2005 . 10 Check it all fits together Now pull it all into one neat package. f. A costs and income summary. Working title b. distasteful characters.

You want to demonstrate that this is original. They have agreed to see and hear you. If they want to know even more. You will probably have only 10 minutes.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 8 Making the pitch You are now ready to start planning for the big event – the pitch. 3. You want to whet the appetite of the pitching panel regarding the money that is to be made. You want to make them discuss your concept further. 4. Here are some of them: 1. directly and indirectly. 1 Set your objectives and standards Make a schedule of things you want to achieve in the pitch. they can read the proposal you leave behind. For instance. This will be a schedule of how well you intend to achieve the objectives. if the objective of the project is to make an overall profit. they can arrange a further meeting Now. Detail and state the standard in terms of quality. then set standards and say: Make R500 000 before tax profit. passionate. on a budget of no more than R2-million and nine months from start of the project. The pitch will probably be the most horrifying and strenuous 10 minutes you will spend on the project. professional and have done your homework. unless you are a miracle worker. You want to show that you are sincere. Set standards for the objectives. so that you don’t put anything that you do not need into the 10 minutes of valuable presentation © SABC Ltd 2005 41 . Don’t expect to sell your project at the pitch. That’s why you should invest at least a week planning it. It will also take the shortest time. cost and time. All that concerns the people on the pitching panel are: 1. 2. Go through the list of objectives and then set a standard for each one. fresh and directed to the emotional needs of the target audience. quantity. you are going to divide it all up into three parts. If they want to know more. 2. 2 Plan how to make the best use of the time You will make your pitch to a person or panel. 3.

ask someone to listen to you and watch you do it and offer qualified criticism. Now that you have written the script of your presentation. How you go about that depends on your access to information. time yourself. First of all. 5 Check the business climate Make a final check of the latest local. You would have looked a little silly if you had pitched a terrorist drama involving high-rise buildings in the week after September 11. and allocate it to one of the three parts of the process. Forget it. and that you have been honest. and practise it over and over again. that everything makes sense. What are they like? How do they react to people like you? 4 Rehearse Rehearse the pitch carefully. Now look at your strengths. What matters is the passion you have for your concept. or are not very attractive to look at. Also plan what image you want to project on the day. to make sure that you are not pitching something inappropriate. research the business of the SABC Ltd and its channels. and check that you have done your research and development. Make sure that you are clean and neat. 3 Write your presentation Now go back to the map of the document you did previously. but you are a producer and not a performer. you are ready to make any adaptations to meet the needs of the SABC Content Hub and the channels. Then research the individuals who will listen to the pitch. 2001! 42 © SABC Ltd 2005 . Commissioning editors do NOT expect you to be a performer. After the first draft. Write out everything you need to cover. Relax. When you are ready. Perhaps you have some physical things about you that you feel are disadvantages. Write down what you are going to say in 10 minutes. and of course your network. especially trade information. anything can happen. Perhaps you think you stutter. You can’t change any of that. It’s not very much – about two written pages. national and international events. You are going to perform in front of a person or a group of people.The Art of Pitching Making the pitch time. Focus on your passionate belief. In this day and age. stand up and read it out loud.

7 Confirm it in writing Fax and e-mail confirmation of the meeting in writing. If you were “yourself”. 8 Relax Relax. You can’t just e-mail the information. they want to meet you. © SABC Ltd 2005 43 . present your feelings about the project. Remember. They will give you plenty of notice. 9 Assess your performance How did you do? Your pitch is usually followed by a question and answer discussion. be yourself. date and venue are correct. More TV programmes have been sold through passion than anything else. you probably did fine. then relax.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 6 Agree the date The Content Hub will call you to a pitch meeting. and make sure that the time. it is not enough to be on time. it is far better to be 10 minutes early.

without using “hard sell” language. The Market Distributors and Audiences Market Size/Trends Competition Estimated Sales IV.The Art of Pitching Writing a business plan 9 Writing a business plan The business plan requires a lot of thinking and planning. Management Management Description Ownership Board of Directors/Board of Advisors Support Services © SABC Ltd 2005 . Development and Production Development Status of the Project Production Process Cost of Production and Development Labour Requirements Expenses and Capital Requirements Operating Expenses Capital Requirements Distribution V. 1 44 Write out the headings of the plan I. Remember that it must be logical. Sales and Marketing Marketing Strategy Income Streams Advertising and Promotion VI. It is not a legal document. Introductory Contents Cover Executive Summary Table of Contents II. Business Description Industry Overview Company Description Company’s Products or Services Positioning This Project – description III. But it does not require great skill and you should be able to do it yourself. sensible and a little exciting.

Producer Guide SABC Content Hub VII. alliance. what it consists of. and why this project fits in with market wants and needs. the people who make up the partnership. You will also describe the project. and how all the elements fit together. © SABC Ltd 2005 45 . You will only be able to design the cover. Then explain what the opportunities are. 4 Business description This is a description of your business. The headings above are only a guide for you to work from. In this section. Appendix 2 Fill in the gaps in a first draft Go through the headings and make notes of the things you are going to include. what the industry is going through. and the market in the gap. In short. Financial Documents Risks Cash Flow Statement Balance Sheet Income Statement Funding Request and Return VIII. The keys to a successful plan are: • Simple language • Logical layout • Include only information that is strictly necessary • As short as possible • Easy to read 3 Introductory contents Leave this to the end. and your plan may need its own specific headings. state the gap in the market. Each project requires its own business plan. you will also describe what you have done in the past that is proof of your competency and the competency of the group. 5 Market Describe the entertainment environment. write the Executive Summary and do the Table of Contents when everything else is finished. the company or the group of companies. and what audiences are getting.

and why the partnership/alliance makes sense. planning two years ahead. 10 Appendix Here you put in any other relevant material. your team’s past experience. 8 Management Describe the people involved in the business. and in the case of a TV programme.The Art of Pitching Writing a business plan 6 Development and production Describe the development that has taken place. your conclusion and how you intend to produce all the elements involved. 7 Sales and marketing How are you going to sell and market your programme? It has to be sold to distributors and then marketed to audiences. the obvious Appendix 1 is your pitch document. the empowerment aspects. which includes the treatment and the other summaries. 9 Financials Ask your accountant to help with these as the risk analysis and the cash flow analysis are complex and are probably the first things that the reader of this business plan will look at. QUICK GUIDE As an independent producer you need a business plan for your entire business. and which ones still have to be signed up. You will need a special separate plan for each project that involves co-production partners and licensing. This will be quite a long section as you also need to describe which partners are in place. 46 © SABC Ltd 2005 .

financiers. the higher the risk. their costs. 1 Define all the income streams List all the income streams. co-production partners and distributors. retailers. Here is a simple step-by-step procedure to follow when doing a production deal. The broadcaster takes all the risk. the potential partners will spot it. advertisers and service providers. You can buy the data you need from statistics bodies like the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF). and then work out the potential gross profit from each. They may be the SABC Ltd. Choose people that you know would like to be in partnership with each other. you should be realistic because the higher your estimates. Getting a commission is like taking an order.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 10 Doing the deal A commission is not a deal. Also. and subscribe to industry newsletters. and know your way around the larger companies. and negotiating profit and copyright share. List all the people (potential partners) who may be interested in being involved. When calculating the costs. be conservative. Divide them up into categories and rank them in order of those you would like to have on board. other African broadcasters. their potential income. When estimating the potential income in each stream. It does not entail negotiating investment and profit share. car manufacturers or telephone operators. © SABC Ltd 2005 47 . a foreign distributor. 2 Approach the potential partners This takes time. If you are not. on the other hand. You should have a network of people who provide you with information. potential sponsors. means pulling together a consortium of investors. All it means is that you have sold an idea to the broadcaster and the broadcaster pays you for the manufacture. How do you know who they are? You need to read the business press and television trade press. all the copyright and takes on all the potential profit and loss. Approach the people on the top of the list and work your way down until you have found people who like your business plan. They could also include financiers such as the Industrial Development Corporation or one of the merchant banks who express an interest in television projects. be realistic. You should also network. Doing a deal. They could be media companies.

The Art of Pitching
Doing the deal

You can also consult the business directories and find out which companies
are part of larger groups. It is easier to approach a group of companies
that are already connected through cross-ownership.

3

Refine the individual deals
After you have approached potential partners and found some who are
interested, you will find that your original estimates and assumptions
may change. Perhaps you had thought that a cell phone company would
be interested in sponsoring the programme and instead you found a
supermarket chain. You may also find that they are interested in investing
in a different way and want a different return from what you had originally
anticipated. So, you have to go back to the business plan and make changes
to the way the deals are structured.

4

Refine the business plan
This may mean changes to the basic structure of your plan. The people who
are interested may have come up with different or more income streams,
and changed the cost structures accordingly. It’s not a matter of starting
again, but just making changes. You will be doing this often.

5

Approach investors
What if there is a capital shortfall? This happens when some of the people
who want to be involved are prepared to put up “capital” in the form of
deferred payments, as you may have done. Perhaps they want to invest
services in place of cash. This means that instead of taking payment for
your services at the beginning, you defer payment and convert it into
“capital”, which you will get back with profits later. This happens almost
all the time. Willing investors are often short of cash. Where a service
provider has offered low cost services in exchange for publicity, this is
usually known as a “trade exchange”.
However, this doesn’t give you cash to pay bills at the start. That’s why
you need people who will come in with money, and invest it as financial
equity. We call these “investors” and they could range from your family
to a merchant bank. You may even be able to get development funding
from many of the funding agencies. This process of getting the “mix”
right is very complex and you may need some professional advice.
Try not to take money from family and friends. If the project loses money,
your family and friends will lose their money, and you will let them down.

48

© SABC Ltd 2005

Producer
Guide
SABC Content Hub

It’s bad enough to get into trouble with a bank, but letting down your
family and friends will lead to lifelong unpleasantness.
There are many ways to make up a capital shortfall. They are usually
quite complicated. Seek professional advice.

6

Refine the deals
Now that you have finance, and the money with which to start making
the project, you will have to refine the individual deals. This is because
the interest payments on loans and the profit returns expected by the
investors will put the entire business plan into a new light.

7

Refine the business plan
Earlier, you were warned that this would happen often. Any change in
a deal will change the business plan. A crucial part of the business plan
is the cash flow analysis. This records how much cash you have in hand
month by month. If you run out of cash to pay the bills, you will have to
borrow money, and this is expensive. This extra cost will eat into your
profits. That’s why investors and lenders always look at the cash flow
analysis of the business plan first.

8

Confirm the plan with the partners
Now that you have revised the plan, send the revised plan to all the
partners to make sure they agree with it. If they don’t, you are in for more
revisions, and so it will go on until everybody is satisfied. Don’t expect
making a deal to take a day, or a month. It will never take less than six
months, and sometimes even takes years.

9

Construct the deal
You now have to get an entertainment lawyer to help you construct the
deal. This means drawing up a contract for each partner, and making sure
that each agreement is perfectly in line with the business plan, and each
of the other contracts. The business plan should be a summary of all the
individual deals.
You don’t have to let each of the partners see each other’s contracts, but
it is better to be transparent. If you keep information secret, then it seems
you are trying to hide something. Deals that are successful and that lead
to more deals in the future, are open, honest and transparent.
Successful business is all about TRUST.

© SABC Ltd 2005

49

The Art of Pitching
Doing the deal

10 Get it all signed
Get the deals and the contracts signed.

QUICK GUIDE Never start production if you have a capital
shortfall. If you don’t have all the money you
need to meet your cash flow requirements, delay
production.

50

© SABC Ltd 2005

They all share in the copyright and in the profits. the director and line producer could start lining up certain things that you know you will need. If you sell the programme to a foreign distributor.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 11 Producing the programme Now comes the easy part. 1 Research The more you spend on research and careful planning in pre-production. but you can also double-check if you are infringing copyright. It has taken months. Not only will this help you answer queries if a viewer challenges you. Make a point of instructing all your researchers to carefully note every source of information. you are in for a rocky time with your scriptwriter. QUICK GUIDE Dramas and documentaries need scripts. or even a week. sub-plots and style of the soap. plots. to get to this point. if not years. Some of them will have insisted that they have a right to comment on the script. Either way. or anything that involves scientific facts. settings. especially every aspect connected with historical or scientific facts. There is a certain amount of planning you can do here. Even if the comments are not valid. trying to get everything right. an extensive set of documents that detail the characters. Producing will take you only a few weeks. You will need to research every aspect of the production. they will almost certainly ask you for an annotated script. Don’t expect development to take a day. the less it will cost you in the expensive production and post-production stages. 2 Development This usually refers to the period during which the script is written. but is strict on timings. listing the exact source of the information. © SABC Ltd 2005 51 . If you are making a historical drama or documentary. the person making the comments will think they are. for example. This is the script with a footnote for every fact that is quoted or referred to. Soap operas need a “bible”. Game shows and reality programmes need a different format that does not stipulate dialogue. You have put together a partnership or consortium of people who have a financial stake in the project. Sometimes their comments will be valid and sometimes they won’t be. scenarios. you will need to have your facts right.

” A word of warning: it’s cheaper to fix it in production. It also involves the casting. either on film or on video. Preferably. there are relatively few people involved in pre-production and they cost comparatively less money. The more competent your line producer (production manager) is. 4 Pre-production The line producer (production manager) and the director will take over from you now. QUICK GUIDE 52 © SABC Ltd 2005 There is an expression. you will have employed a post-production supervisor as well. It involves specialised people and complex equipment. you can print it and copy it. the shooting script and the final call sheets. This person assists the line producer and is responsible for making sure that postproduction runs smoothly. You can only post-produce material that you have shot. the most expensive equipment and involves a lot of logistics. “We’ll fix it in post (-production). Remember. as the producer is ultimately responsible for everything. the better it goes. Pre-production involves the script breakdown.The Art of Pitching Producing the programme 3 Final script Once you have a script that everyone is happy with. you should at this stage start working on your next project. you will be called on to take decisions daily. Remember. the location and studio bookings – in fact everything that you weren’t forced to commit to earlier. Editing is also expensive. and you can start working on other things. The better the production was planned and shot. assuming that the production is completed. the quicker post-production will go. If the production is complicated. the production schedule. . the crew. This stage involves the employment of the most people on the production. 5 Production This is referred to as “principal photography” when you are making a film or a drama series. to ensure that you are making money after the project and into the future. the less you will spend on production. However. The more time and money you spend on careful planning. 6 Post-production Post-production starts when all the shooting is finished. time is money. It refers to the time when all the photographic material is recorded. You may not be able to “fix it in post”.

The final broadcast master is what can be copyrighted. and will be shielded from magnetic fields. radio and press material. 9 Broadcast master There may even be further changes to be made to the final cut. If something happens and the project is going to go over budget. However. what the budget is so far. Once the final master is approved. and it is what will make you money in the future. Approval will probably affect all the other elements of the project. it has to be approved by all concerned. Here it will be kept at a constant temperature and humidity. 8 Approval Once the television programme is edited.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 7 Production accounting All this time. All the partners should have access to financial reports. make security masters. and how it affects the budget for the week and the budget to date. then it may be possible to rearrange the business plan. and will involve consultation with all the partners. Then deliver it to the broadcaster and the foreign distributor in the format they require. Make sure you have security copies. 10 Back up and security Don’t ever leave out this step. such as competitions. Make sure that security copies are taken from the master. merchandising. the production accountant has been recording every cent that is spent. there is no excuse for running over budget. this will affect the deal. This probably involves all the partners and especially the SABC Ltd and a foreign distributor. © SABC Ltd 2005 53 . You are well advised to issue weekly progress reports and circulate them to all the partners concerned. If you are getting reports weekly. and that the master is archived at an archiving service. Make sure that you get a weekly schedule of what is spent.

All these copyright details have to be checked and cleared. and as required by the audiences.The Art of Pitching Delivering the programme 12 Delivering the programme There are a number of processes and procedures involved in delivery. sources and annotations checked Music cue sheets completed Performance and appearance releases checked Protection master checked FCC form completed Yes No A note on intellectual property: 1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Description Final master approved for technical quality Duration checked All legal requirements checked Aspect ratio approved All copyright assignments and waivers completed Research. 54 © SABC Ltd 2005 . There are often many versions of a master that lead up the final master that is approved. If the copyright has expired. Here is a checklist of what you need to do in order to deliver the right tape of the correct quality and format. It wants to ensure that the audience will see and hear the best picture and sound quality that the technology can deliver. Remember: 1. You cannot just point a camera at pictures in a book and include this footage in your programme. The commissioning editor will help you in this regard. and in the SABC’s Policy and Procedures for the Procurement of Local Television Programmes. goes on air at the right time. 2. Pictures are always owned by someone. but you will also have these details in your contract. These procedures make sure that the correct tape is delivered. These procedures ensure that the right programme. the pictures may still be owned by virtue of reproduction rights. as approved by the Content Hub. The SABC Ltd is strict on quality.

unless they are part of the background. © SABC Ltd 2005 55 . and the releases for all those who have expressed those opinions or interpretations. provide sources for all the statements made. This is a script that carries the sources for all factual statements made. The Content Hub commissioning editor will supply you with all the information you need to make sure you get it right. the source still has to be entered on the “Music Cue Sheet”. the sources of all opinions. If you have asked a composer to write music especially for the programme. All music is owned by someone. then that composer owns the rights to that music until s/he has signed an agreement with you commissioning the music. If it is recorded from “copyright free” discs. In factual programmes. If they are walking down the street in a public place. but they also have a right to their own dignity. It is best to submit an annotated script. 3. and provided they do not appear in an undignified light. People have a right to privacy. A written release is essential even if the participants tell you that they are willing to participate.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 2. 4. it is assumed that they are willingly appearing in public. It is best to get a release form signed by anyone appearing in a programme.

all the better. You will want a certain number of viewers (that number has to grow from week to week). You may want to attract competition entrants. Look at the competition. You may want to sell units of merchandising. distribution) are involved in the marketing. You may want to attract newspaper readers and radio listeners. 1 Set your marketing objectives What are you trying to sell? Primarily. How many people do you want to watch your programme? This is the type of marketing objective you will set. director. characters. Entertainment is notorious for using publicity stunts to attract attention. Your strategy is how you are going to achieve them. 2 Set your marketing strategy You have set your objectives. Draw up your plan. Look at what is being broadcast at the same time on other channels and in other media. This step will possibly already be done by the time the business plan is written. but they are great when they work as planned. the broadcaster is trying to sell people to the advertisers. interactivity. they may only have been estimated and included in the business plan as a provision. So you have to attract people to watch the programme. publicity.The Art of Pitching Marketing the programme 13 Marketing the programme Most of the elements that go with the television programme (setting. List all the things you would like to do to achieve these objectives. and to do that you have to market the programme to them. 3 Cost the strategy How much will each activity cost? This is like doing the production budget. spin-offs. Be careful with them. except that it involves the cost of media buying. merchandising. Make sure that your activities are directed specifically towards achieving the numbers specified in the objectives. artists. target audience. 56 © SABC Ltd 2005 . All these are your marketing objectives. public relations and lots of publicity stunts. The overall marketing costs have to be included in the business plan. If they earn money for the production as well. However.

you are entering a battlefield with many opponents and the only weapon you have is marketing. They may have excellent ideas you never thought of. 5 Can you afford it? The answer will invariably be “No”. 7 Design the marketing schedule Now take all the activities that make up the strategy and assign deadlines to them. This involves taking the costings you did in the last step and applying them week by week so that you can see the costs as part of a marketing cash flow analysis. 8 Write the marketing plan Now you can write the marketing plan. and see if there are other marketing opportunities. If you cut out the “nice to haves” and leave the “must haves” you will probably be able to afford it. The marketing budget has to be completed before the business plan. then trim those parts of the strategy that don’t really achieve objectives. You are all in it together. Be careful. Share the draft marketing plan with all the partners.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub 4 Develop a marketing budget Now start on the marketing budget. If you include all the activities that are involved in every strategy. 6 Check the deal Check back to the deal. as the costs (and possible income streams) have to be part of the business plan. © SABC Ltd 2005 57 . Decide on a start date and a completion date. It is always tempting to trim the marketing budget to boost profits. you should use project management software to handle this for you. Look at the responsibilities of the other partners. If the producer has something valuable to contribute. It’s different in a co-production. the commissioning editor will listen attentively. If you have to trim the budget. In the same way as your line producer (production manager) will have used specialised scheduling software on the production schedule. In a commissioned television production. but this is false economy. With television. the broadcaster usually does all the marketing without reference to the producer. We saw earlier that programmes have to fight for “attention” as viewers have so many choices. you are probably looking at hundreds of deadlines. It will look a little like the business plan with obvious variations.

there is never any harm in spending time. Most TV producers start off as contractors in commissioning agreements with the SABC. Many end up as partners and coproducers. or a brainstorm session. the less there is to go wrong. If you want to go further. 10 Manage the marketing Nothing ever goes as planned. go to the recommended reading list on page 59 and the list of resources that follows on page 61. when to finish and what they may spend. Then you can plan for such events and have a “Plan B” to fall back on. and the better you have planned. Now read other Content Hub guides and publications. complex task. to work out what possibly could go wrong. 58 © SABC Ltd 2005 . However. when to start.The Art of Pitching What have you learned? 9 Assign responsibilities If you use a standard project management software package. Producing a television programme is a huge. There’s no reason you can’t be one of them! Good luck! This book is an overview. with your team. even for the most experienced producers. it will automatically generate reports that tell every person what they have to do. What have you learned? This book has succeeded if you now realise just how little you really know.

Cable and the Web. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. Annotated script A script required by a distributor that includes the reference for every fact quoted. by encouraging people to come up with ideas and discouraging criticism. Business plan A complete description of a business project. Massachusetts: Focal. London: Cambridge. Vogel H (1994) Entertainment Industry Economics.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub Recommended reading Blumenthal H & Goodenough O (1998) This Business of Television. Budget A detailed description of all money that will be spent. Business alliance An arrangement between two or more businesses to work together for a specific project and time. Harris R (1999) A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. California: Silman-Jones. Commercial breaks The places at which advertisements are inserted between and within television programmes. New York: Billboard. Pine J & Gilmore J (1999) The Experience Economy. Zillman D (ed. every source of information. Shemel S & Krasilovsky W (1997) This Business of Music. Audit Bureau of Circulation The South African body that audits and certifies the circulation of newspapers and magazines. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. Litwak M (1994) Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry. Eastman ST (2001) Promotion for Marketing for Broadcasting. and the ownership of all other property used. Channel share The percentage of the number of viewers a channel has attracted at a certain time. USA: Harvard. relative to the other channels available to that audience. New York: Billboard. The overall process is called the Value Chain. Eastman ST (2000) Research in Media Promotion. Belmont: Wadsworth. Glossary of terms Adding value The process in business where value is added during the development and manufacturing processes. Eastman ST (2002) Broadcast/Cable/Web Programming. Channel branding A description of the personality and “soul” of a television channel that indicates the type of programming it offers to a certain audience. USA: Fireside. © SABC Ltd 2005 59 . Brainstorming A group activity for generating new ideas.) (2000) Media Entertainment. Resnik G & Trost S (1996) All You Need to Know about the Movie and TV Business.

Rate Card Cost The cost of television advertising as published by the broadcaster. it describes emotionally a project. Cost of sales The money spent to incur sales. © SABC Ltd 2005 .The Art of Pitching Glossary of terms Commissioning The process by which a broadcaster invites production houses to make programmes to the specifications set by the broadcaster. Hierarchy of needs The triangular arrangement of human needs proposed by Abraham Maslow. Flow through The audience attracted to a programme from the previous programme. Merchandising Using a theme. Free-to-air television Commercial or public television that does not charge a subscription. but decoded to subscribers only. Repurposing Taking a television programme and changing it to make it suitable for a new use or market. Trade exchanges A way of creating capital in a business project without investing hard cash. Demographics The quantitative analysis of an audience. brand or any other aspect of a programme to sell consumer goods. Treatment A description of a television project before the script is written. governed by South African law and subject to international agreements. Co-productions A deal between two or more people to produce a television programme. High concept line A verbal description of a film in a few words designed to go on a poster. South African Advertising Research Foundation A non-profit company owned by broadcasters. France. Living Standards Measurement A measurement of the living standard 60 primarily described by the types of things a group of consumers purchase. media owners and advertising agencies to conduct media research. Concept An overall idea of a project. Foreign distributor A distributor who sells programming to broadcasters globally. character. Warehousing The result of broadcasters buying up copyright and ignoring the potential for repurposing and reversioning. commissions and discounts. Copyright The right to intellectual property. but rather investing services. LSM See Living Standards Measurement. Logline Based on the High Concept Line. It consists of overheads. Deal A business agreement. Pay-TV Broadcast television that is encoded. Versioning Taking a television programme and making different versions for different audiences. MIP TV and MIPCOM International television markets held annually in Cannes. Culture The way groups of people say and do things. Flow in The audience attracted to a programme from another channel.

sithengi.co.co.gov.saarf.za or (012) 429-3338 www.co.saarf.za www.com www.co.co.co.za www.statssa.co. based in Pretoria) TELMAR (an agency for AMPS data) IMS-SA (an agency for AMPS data) www.za www.co.co.fespaco.artslink.filmmakersoftware.itweb.sabc.telmar.com www.za www.za www.za www.gov.statssa.za www.africafilmtv.omdmedia.za Web resources Producing management software Sithengi FESPACO SABC Ltd Filmmaker National Film and Video Foundation The Media www.za www.co.za www.bf www.nfvf.co.themedia.za © SABC Ltd 2005 61 .za (011) 447-7843 Free stuff from the web Artslink newsletter ITWeb newsletter Screen Africa newsletter Africa Film and TV newsletter Population census SA Media Facts AMPS Presentations www.ac.unisa.Producer Guide SABC Content Hub Research resources South African Advertising Research Foundation (a resource for AMPS research) Statistics South Africa (population and other statistics) Bureau of Market Research (general market research.za www.filmmaker.com www.screenafrica.

(from Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary) pitch the act of presenting a proposal to a broadcaster – either in person or in the form of a document. Your SABC. but you pitch the feelings.” Your South Africa. The word “pitch” became common practice in the early days of cinema when studios needed an expression of the passion that was not always evident in written words. .pitch verb [I or T] mainly USA to try to persuade someone to do something: She pitched her idea to me over a business lunch. “You write the words. They are pitching for business at the moment.