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Why Aren’t There More TV Shows Set in Vegas?

By on October 24, 2016

Television is a cutthroat business, particularly in the United States where every TV network has a number of sponsors and shareholders who must approve everything before it is given the green light for broadcasting; after all it is their money on the line.

To be successful it can take a lot of luck and perseverance. Every week thousands of would-be TV writers and directors stand in front of network executives and pitch their vision of what will be the next big thing. Many ideas rarely get past the secretary in the reception, fewer make it to be pitched in front of execs and very few ever make it on air.

Here we speculate as to why there aren’t more TV shows set in Las Vegas.

Budget

An average TV network drama has a budget of $3 million per episode, which may sound alike a lot but when you break it down into what that money is actually spent on, it’s not very much. Once you’ve paid for your cast, the crew, props, costumes how much is really left? It’s reported that Bryan Cranston was earning $1.8 million per episode for the final season of Breaking Bad, although due to its popularity, Breaking Bad did finish its run with a bigger budget than most TV shows. A big part of shooting TV shows is paying for use of the locations. While most interiors are filmed in a studio, somewhere down the line you would need the genuine exteriors of Las Vegas if your show was set there. There are also taxes to pay depending on where you’re filming, with some states like Georgia offering tax breaks to encourage producers to film there. No matter how much a network might like an idea, if it isn’t financially viable the brakes will be put on immediately.

Sponsors & Shareholders

There are a number of stumbling blocks on the way to a show being produced, in some cases it could be too similar to a show already in production and there can also be issues with production. There may have been a number of shows set in Las Vegas that could have been as big as Breaking Bad or the Walking Dead but never got accepted because it wasn’t felt to be the right fit for the network. Sponsors and shareholders may also reject an idea based on the content, for example they may not want to be associated with anything to do with gambling.

Platform

There is a great debate within the entertainment industry these days in regards to what the best place is for certain stories. The superhero genre has started to branch out into episodic TV shows whereas it would have been exclusively in the movie realm before. There have been a number of casino or Las Vegas themed movies over the years, and maybe subsequent visionaries see that as a better place for their Las Vegas drama as well. Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote Casino with Martin Scorsese, had a similar idea for a film about Las Vegas in the 1960’s but ended up reworking it into a TV show in order to fit the structure.

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