How to Pitch a TV Show That Animation Executives Will Actually Want to Buy
Welcome artists, writers, animation students, professionals, and enthusiasts to cartoonpitchpro.com!
I couldn’t find a go-to website with tips on pitching a cartoon to a studio or network, so I’m making one.
So why are you here?
I bet you’ve got a fantastic idea for a TV show or cartoon.
You’ve written a script or two, sketched a hundred pictures, penned the perfect theme song lyrics, or even storyboarded an entire sequence.
You’ve neglected loved ones, personal hygiene, even your day job while investing hours into developing your unique and hilarious characters and world. You know them like the back of your smartphone case.
And the best part? You’re actually happy with it.
You think to yourself, “This is way better than half the junk on TV these days. I should pitch it to Netflix.”
That’s where this website comes in.
All the information you’ll need to make that dream a reality can be found here. Take a look at the list of articles on the right side column and dive right in!
But first, can you answer this question?
Why do you want to pitch a TV show?
When I was a kid, I watched a lot of television—mostly cartoons. I grew up in the 80’s, so most of the shows I watched were just really long toy commercials.
I didn’t care. I loved them!
When my parents kicked me out of the house to go play outside, my friends and I would spend hours re-enacting the latest episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, but never Denver, The Last Dinosaur. (“He’s My Friend and a Whole Lot More” – What’s that supposed to mean?)
There was always that one kid whose parents bought him all the action figures from those shows. (Everybody wanted to be his friend.)
My friends and I also loved drawing those cartoon characters, and eventually created our own original ones.
I admit, mine were mostly rip-offs of my favorite shows.
I bet you can guess what inspired my “Radical Raccoons” characters. (Hint: they were a mutant quartet of brothers who were skilled ninjas, each wielding a different weapon.)
I knew one day that I was going to be a famous cartoon creator, like Eastman and Laird, Matt Groening, or the geniuses who created the Transformers.
Fast-forward a few decades, and now I’m working in the animation industry, but not as a creator. Not the job I envisioned as a kid, but close enough!
(What kid says they want to be an animation executive when they grow up?)
How about you?
Do you want to make a show that gets rave reviews, with characters that get plastered on all sorts of toys, pajamas, and other consumer products?
Do you want to make a show with a serialized story arc, tons of plot twists, and a host of characters—some of which could get a spin-off show?
Maybe you dream of winning Emmy’s and Annie Awards while being courted by all the animation studios in Burbank who are dying to pay you to make hit cartoons for them!
Or maybe you dream of making a preschool cartoon that not only entertains, but educates a younger audience.
Those are wonderful goals, but hold up.
Before all that can happen, you’ve got to convince a lot of people that you and your show idea is worth investing hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of dollars on.
Are you up for the task?
Let’s say you have a brilliant idea for an animated series. You’ve done your research, and after using a few industry connections (and a teensy bit of stalking) you’ve managed to secure a pitch meeting at a major animation studio or network.
You’ve managed to do what few people outside the industry have done: You got your foot in the door.
Now comes the hard part.
Can you quickly and effectively pitch your show?
Before your creation sees the light of day on a network, you need to present it to someone who will deem it worthy or not.
Unless you’re already a talented celebrity, an established creative force, or a Kardashian, you have to nail your pitch.
No way around it.
Are you prepared to handle a television executive’s questions, blank stares, fake chuckles, interruptions, and more questions?
Are you ready to handle suggested changes, criticism, or even outright rejection?
Are you prepared to handle that dreaded feeling of knowing you forgot to mention an important detail of your show idea, only to realize that you also forgot to get parking validation, and now have to pay 8 lousy bucks—”CASH ONLY”—that you don’t have on you?
If you’re not sure, then you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to share all of my pitching experience and advice so you can pitch your show idea with confidence, and sell your show.
Hold up, let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: There are no hidden “secrets” to nailing a pitch.
There are, however, plenty of practical, concrete, and actionable tips you can quickly learn to impress studio executives, sell your show, and get it seen my millions.
That’s the goal, right?
I’ve been in the animation industry for more than 15 years as a development and current series executive for some of the world’s biggest animation networks and studios.
I’ve heard a boatload of pitches. Some good, some bad.
Some so bad that they ought to be illegal.
I absolutely love my job as an animation executive. Every day I get to work with some top-tier talent in the animation industry (writers and artists just like you), and help make cartoons.
But the absolute worst part of my job is having to sit through a terrible cartoon pitch.
The kind of pitch where I know it’s going to be a hard pass but for the sake of being polite, I stay in the room and hear them out—even though I really want to jump out the nearest window, onto the back of a giant eagle.
But I digress.
So why make a site about animation pitches?
Like I said earlier, there’s hardly any good and practical information available online (or offline) about pitching a TV show, especially a cartoon.
I’ve met so many people who have ideas for a cartoon, but don’t know how to write a pitch bible, or don’t know what to expect in a pitch meeting.
Many resort to searching the internet.
But wouldn’t you rather be drawing, writing, and creating instead of scouring the internet, searching for answers, only to get distracted by baby goat videos?
I wanted to create one place to share my advice and experience with all you talented creative types who are looking for tips, tools, and tactics on how to pitch a cartoon successfully .
And by “successfully”, I mean a show idea that gets optioned, or bought, by a network or studio like Apple, NBC Universal, Cartoon Network, or Netflix. And those networks have pretty deep pockets!
(Some networks literally have buckets of cash laying around, waiting for someone to pitch them a great idea. As of this writing, most of those buckets are at Netflix, Apple, or Hulu.)
But those buckets are just going to sit there, unclaimed–or go towards the studio’s cereal bar and frozen yogurt machine–unless YOU pitch them something that blows them away.
Something they don’t want going to their competition.
Speaking of competition, at the time of this writing, the list of animation buyers and makers has grown tremendously. This list includes:
- Disney (Disney Channel, XD, Disney Jr)
- Nickelodeon (Nick Jr, Nicktoons, Noggin)
- Cartoon Network (Boomerang, Adult Swim)
- NBC Universal (DreamWorks)
- Warner Bros. Animation
- Google (YouTube)
- And more!
And that’s just in the United States.
I want to help you give the best, bullet-proof pitch you can, so those executives have no choice but to say yes.
The average time a child spends in front of a screen, playing a game, or watching a show increases every year.
People aren’t going to stop watching cartoons any time soon, shouldn’t yours be one of them?
That’s why I made this site, and if you’ve read this far, I hope that’s why you’re here.
(And frankly, because I don’t want to have to sit through another awful pitch.)
So, to recap:
More and more companies are buying or making content (animated and live-action) faster than ever before. It’s like an arms race for talent and content.
Those companies are spending more and more money on acquiring or making content each year.
People all over the world are consuming more and more content on a variety of screens and platforms each year.
There hasn’t been a better time in the history of film and television than now to create, pitch, and sell your idea for a TV show.
You need to know how to pitch your TV show ideas, and pitch them well.
Or someone else—whose idea is probably not as good as yours—will. They’ll get the offer, the money, the awards, the merchandise, and the movie spinoffs.
And you’ll get to watch their cartoon, knowing that your show idea was way better.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen, shall we?
What else can you expect from this site?
I’m glad I asked!
Here’s an abbreviated list of topics I plan to cover:
- Practical advice on what you can do to prepare yourself and your TV show idea so it has the best shot at getting optioned by a network or studio
- Tips for what to do and NOT DO before, during, and after a pitch meeting
- Actual pitch blunders I’ve witnessed, and how to learn from them while avoiding being the hot topic of conversation around the office
- What a development executive is thinking during your pitch
- What happens after you’ve finished your pitch
- What must be in your animated pitch bible and how to structure it
- Insights and opinions on the current animation industry
- Where and how to contact studio executives
Much of the information on this site goes beyond pitching a cartoon series. Many of these tips can be applied to any industry where pitching and presenting ideas are crucial.
In closing, let me say this:
I know you’ve worked too hard on your idea to just run into a wall now.
Bad pitches are 100% preventable 50% of the time! (I just made that up.)
So take a look around. Again, even if you’re not interested in the art of pitching in the animation industry, you just might learn a thing or two.
Tell me what you want to know!
Questions? Comments? Care to disagree and tell me how wrong I am? (Aw, come on! I’m just getting started!) Any particular subjects or content you’d like to see me cover?
Send me an email, or post a comment. I want your feedback! I want to know any questions you have about pitching to studio executives, making an animated pitch bible, or even which studios are worth pitching to.
While you’re at it, could you do me a favor and share this post with your friends ? I’d greatly appreciate it.
Keep this site bookmarked, and come back for more articles and helpful tips.
Thanks for stopping by.