What it is: As upfront week descends and network entertainment chiefs whittle down their buckets of pilots to unveil their fall schedules, here is a show with a different model. Each week the half-hour program airs a collection of five different short-form pilot episodes. After the show airs, the pilots are uploaded online, and viewers are asked to act as the network executive and go online to vote for their favorites, with the two most popular returning the next week with new episodes. The three episodes with the fewest votes get canceled and are replaced by three new pilots.
The back story: While the show on VH1 made its debut only a month and a half ago, its roots go back to 2003, when Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab launched Channel 101, an online forum for digital shorts. Later comedian Jack Black and Benjamin Cooley joined, and the four executives produce the program.
The UGC angle: In addition to the five professionally produced shorts airing each week, one user-generated short, as voted on at Acceptable.TV, will also air.
Sponsor: Amp'd Mobile sponsors the program and also has a content relationship with it.
The rub: The traditional TV model has networks commissioning a raft of pilots that never see the light of day. Some industry watchers have suggested networks actually put such pilots on sites like YouTube to see what resonates with viewers. This is as close to that model as anyone has gotten. While it's not out of the realm of possibility that a popular short could get blown out into its own on-air show, that's not necessarily the focus of the program, according to VH1. Instead, the goal is to drive viewer interaction. Acceptable.TV was created under a 2006 MTV Networks mandate to create new stand-alone websites.