Home Industry How to Pitch a TV Show to Netflix | A Comprehensive Guide

How to Pitch a TV Show to Netflix | A Comprehensive Guide

by Natasha Ferguson

You’ve heard of Netflix, right?

The #1 streaming service in the world, with 220 million subscribers as of September 2022.

If you’ve heard of it, the rest of the world has, and when it comes to producing new screenplay ideas in both film and television, you can bet Netflix is on the top of everyone’s list.

And if you yourself are interested in how to pitch a tv show to Netflix, this article should help prep you for it.

Because let’s be honest, everyone want’s to get their tv show on Netflix, but if you’re just starting out, you don’t get to choose Netflix; Netflix has to choose you.

To pitch an idea, game, tv script, screenplay, or production in development to Netflix, you must collaborate with a licensed agent, producer, attorney, manager, or industry executive with an existing Netflix relationship. Direct submissions from individuals without these connections are not accepted by the platform.

But hold up, before prepping your big pitch, you might want to consider if Netflix is even the right platform for your tv show. The following section below will walk you through some factors to consider when determining if Netflix is the best fit for your tv show and then how to best prepare for pitching to the streaming giant if it is, in fact, the right fit.

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Is Netflix the Best Platform for Your TV Show?

Before you do anything, it’s crucial to assess if Netflix is the right streaming platform for your tv show idea. Yes, it may be the most popular streaming service globally, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one.

Amazon Prime and Apple TV are just two other examples of streamers you could approach, not to mention the thousands more scattered across the world. It would be fruitless to put in all the time and energy into preparing your tv show idea for it to not work within Netflix’s current catalogue.

Netflix’s demographic has also changed over the past decade; back in 2015, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 took up the lion’s share of users. In 2022, this shifted to between 35- and 44-year-olds. Consider your target audience carefully and who this series is for.

See what’s out there. If you conclude that your series slots in with what Netflix is currently offering, then go for it.

How to Make the Perfect TV Show Pitch to Netflix

You have decided that Netflix will be an ideal home for your series. So, what’s next?

Stand Out from the Crowd

Consider your tv show idea thoroughly and ask yourself this: is it a great idea, unique, fresh core idea or take that audiences haven’t seen before. Your series has to stand out from all the rest that’s out there, so make sure you can explain why your idea is the one Netflix should be picking up.

If your initial idea just is not quite where it needs to be, then take it back to the drawing board. Is your protagonist convincing enough? Is your premise engaging? Does your story have a brand-new message at its heart that no one has considered before?

Know Your Story Inside and Out

It’s true that no one should know your story better than you. Make sure you plan everything out, including the setting, character arcs, your story threads and where you see the series going after one season.

Genre is also key, especially for streaming services like Netflix.

Executives need to be able to place your series straight into one of their categories, so ensure you know exactly where you’d place it in advance.

You may only have devised tv show’s core concept for the first season, but you need to have a vision for the future seasons and the longevity of the series.

Write the Pilot Script

You have your future episodes mapped out; character arcs lined up. It’s now time to open your screenwriting software and start writing.

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The pilot episode is the first episode of a TV series designed to set up the world and the situation that all the characters find themselves in.

For example, the pilot episode of the West Wing immediately introduces the audience to the workings of the White House and the diverse characters that work there, leading up to revealing POTUS.

Once these characters are established, the series then goes on to challenge them and throw them into the conflicting situations audiences know and love.

Now you don’t need to completely copy the writing style of the West Wing or any other pilot but ensure that your pilot script establishes who your protagonist is and their world. From there, you can put them through their paces.

Once you’ve written the pilot script, we advise you to write one or two more episodes to truly demonstrate your skill in developing a series as well as screenwriting tv pilot itself.

Need some guidance on writing a successful TV show script? Check out our article here!

Seek Feedback

Your first draft will be the worst draft you do throughout the whole writing process and development process. Ask as many people as you can to read your finished pilot script and give you feedback. Use their thoughts to polish and polish the script as much as you possibly can.

Submit your pilot to screenwriting contests that provide feedback, or even invest in a script coverage service. Take on all criticism, the positive and the negative.

Create a Series Bible

A series bible is essentially a tv show pitch document that supports you in selling your own tv show idea. Usually, it will include your logline, synopsis of the first season and overarching series, character biographies, a detailed pilot outline, the pilot script as well as short summaries for your first season and other episodes.

Executives and network executives are very unlikely to take your tv pilot script at face value, so your series bible will piece together the entire big picture together for them.

Anyone interested in your series needs to be engaged with the world, characters, and story. A writer’s statement from you also gives them a real insight into the creation of the series/

Now, this may seem a great deal to cram into one document, which means it’s important to include the most important details only in each of the elements. Series bibles should usually be no more than 6-7 pages in length.

Here are some examples of our favorite series bibles from some of Netflix’s most popular tv shows. Click on their titles to view in a PDF format:

You’ll notice that all these Netflix show pitch document examples have their own style and even include images to help convey the tone of the series. This is something you can do too, but ensure the content and verbal pitch is written well first. Then you can go back and add pictures and accents to each page.

Of course, you can just include the text, as this is the most important element of your series or show bible. No text inyour tv show bible, no series.

Build a Strong Connection with Your Audience

Understanding your target audience is paramount. Identify who you aim to reach, and tailor your pitch to resonate with their interests, concerns, and viewing habits. What appeals to them? How does your show speak to current trends or timeless themes?

Crafting your pitch with the audience in mind will make it more compelling to Netflix and other potential networks.

Utilize Visual Aids to Enhance Your Pitch Document

Sometimes, words alone may not fully capture the essence of your TV show. Consider including visual aids such as concept art, storyboards, or mood boards that convey the aesthetic and tone of your series.

Images can spark imagination and provide a tangible feel of what the show will look like, complementing your words and making for more of a more engaging and successful pitch.

Prepare for the Follow-Up

After pitching, you must be ready to respond to questions, concerns, and possibly even criticisms. Executives may want to dig deeper into specific aspects of your series, so anticipate potential inquiries and prepare well-thought-out answers.

This stage can be crucial in securing interest, so rehearse possible scenarios and stay open to collaboration and flexibility. Your ability to articulate and adapt your vision may make the difference in moving your project forward.

Preparing to Pitch Your TV Show to Netflix

Pitching to Netflix isn’t as simple as just walking into their offices and having a pitch meeting with the executives. Firstly, you must get your foot in the door. Here are just some of the ways you can do that:

Do Your Research

If you can attach to tv producers, executives or an actor already established with a production company or Netflix, this can bolster the tv show pitch meeting your series and allow you some time to pitch with the Netflix decision-makers.

Collect a list of people within the entertainment industry who you feel would be a good fit for your project and contact them for pitch meetings. Don’t contact just anybody, but people who would usually engage in pitch process when developing a series like yours.

This is where networking during your development process is key; if you can build a group of people around you who can support you and who you’re in regular contact with, the more people you have to draw on, and vice versa.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process, so start networking as early as you can.

Find an Agent

As we’ve already said, Netflix will not allow unsolicited submissions, so obtaining an agent may be the best course for you.

If you are looking to apply to an agency, ensure their submission window is open. Also, check for what they’re currently accepting submissions for. For example, they may only accept film scripts or drama scripts if they’re swamped with comedies.

Every agent will have their own guidelines, so follow every single one to the letter for the best chance of success. Some agencies may require a cover letter or resume alongside your submission.

Of course, there is never a guarantee that you’ll secure an agent but keep persevering.

Gain Traction Within the Industry

Whilst you’re preparing your series bible and elevator pitch, don’t wait to get your work out there.

By entering script competitions with specific TV writing categories, you can gain feedback to keep improving your writing. Plus, many of the larger competitions have well-known industry executives as part of their judging panel, so if you place highly, they could be contacting you!

If you are struggling to gain traction with your first tv show pitch or series, why not try writing it in another medium, like a web series or even a novel. From there, see if you can attract more interest. You can always adapt it into the reality tv series you’ve dreamed of in the future.

TV Show Pitch Template

When presenting a new idea for a television show, it’s essential to know how to pitch a TV show effectively. This free pitch template is designed to guide you through the elements that should be included in a successful TV show pitch.

  1. Title: Provide a catchy and memorable title for the television show that encapsulates the essence of the concept.

  2. Logline: Summarize the show’s premise in one or two sentences, focusing on the main hook that makes it unique.

  3. Synopsis: Offer a brief overview of the television show’s plot, main characters, setting, and tone. Describe the target audience and the genre (e.g., comedy, drama, thriller).

  4. Main Characters: Provide a detailed description of the key characters, including their backgrounds, motivations, and relationships.

  5. Episode Outline: Share an overview of the TV pilot episode and potential future episodes. Explain how the series will develop over time, emphasizing arcs, themes, and notable events.

  6. Visual Elements: If applicable, include visual aids like concept art, mood boards, or other imagery that helps to convey the show’s aesthetic and style.

  7. Target Audience: Define the intended viewers of the television show, describing demographics and interests that align with the show’s content.

  8. Market Analysis: Discuss the competitive landscape, comparing the show to existing programs in the same genre. Explain why this television show pitch would be appealing to networks and audiences.

  9. Production Requirements: Outline any specific production needs, such as special effects, locations, or notable talent attached to the project.

  10. Monetization Strategy: If applicable, explain how the TV show will generate revenue through advertising, syndication, merchandise, etc.

  11. Attachments and Supporting Materials: Include any additional materials that support your successful TV show pitch, such as script samples, letters of interest from talent, or evidence of previous success in the entertainment industry.

Remember, when aiming to pitch a TV show, your presentation should be concise yet comprehensive, allowing the reader to grasp the essence of the television show quickly. Personalize this template to suit your specific project and the interests of the stakeholders you are presenting it to. Practice delivering the pitch verbally as well, as a face-to-face presentation may be required.

Engage your audience with enthusiasm and confidence, weaving in compelling story elements that resonate with their interests. A well-tailored pitch that connects emotionally can turn potential curiosity into genuine excitement.

You’ve put in the work to craft a successful TV show pitch; now let your passion for the project shine through. Your unique voice and vision could be the driving force that turns your dream into the next television show and phenomenon, showing others how to pitch a TV show with success and creativity.

The Bottom Line

So, your TV pitch is ready, you’re in the room, and it’s time to show these network executives your big picture amazing idea for your wonderful new television series.

It’s no secret that crafting the perfect TV pitch, especially to platforms like Netflix, is not easy, so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t go to plan.

Perseverance will be your best friend as well as your determination to write the best script possible. Remember, even the most successful TV shows often faced rejection before finding their home. Stay true to your vision, gather feedback when you can, and continue refining your approach.

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  • Natasha Ferguson

    Natasha is a UK-based freelance screenwriter and script editor with a love for sci-fi. In 2022 she recently placed in the Screenwriters' Network Short Film Screenplay Competition and the Golden Short Film Festivals. When not at her desk, you'll find her at the theater, or walking around the English countryside (even in the notorious British weather)

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