MIB: Television shows are like Venture Capital Funded Start Ups

Dave Goetsch is executive producer and writer of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, the highest ranked sitcom on TV. After a 12-year run, the its series finale was aired last week.

Goetsch explains in this week’s Masters in Business interview how the structure of television is surprisingly parallel to a typical venture capital back technology start-up. Write the pitch for a new show is very much equivalent to the business plan you might create for new start up. Just as founder start out with a round of Angel investors, so too do show creators need a backer for their initial Pilot. If that gets picked up, the next step is the “Series A round” – let’s call that the first season of broadcast — both tv shows and new firms are untried and unknown, and no one knows if either will find an audience or users. By the time a show makes it to its 4th Season when Syndication (and the big bucks) start, you have the equivalent of for a tech company IPO.

He began his career as a comedy writer on 3rd Rock From The Sun. He explains how comedy writing is about failure — you constantly pitch story ideas and jokes most of which will not make it onto the show. The titles you see in the credits is the pecking order of decision-making: Staff Writer, Story Editor, Co-Producer, Producer, Supervising Producer, Co-Executive Producer and even Executive Producer all pitch ideas to the Show Runner, who has final say.

His favorite books are here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunesBloombergOvercast, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite host sites can be found here.

Next week we speak with Thomas Lin, founding editor of Quanta Magazine, an award-winning, editorially independent science and math news site published by the Simons Foundation.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted Under