TV Writing Programs and Contests

TV writing programs and contests are perfect for anyone who’s ever finished a television script and wondered, “Well, what now?” Competitions are one way of showcasing your work and getting your script seen. If you haven’t finished your masterpiece just yet, strict deadlines will light a fire under your writing routine, so use it to your advantage.

The big network programs are VicomCBS, Disney/ABC, NBC, Nickelodeon, and WB. These hold a lot of weight as they’re run by the bigwigs. Other competitions are run through film festivals, industry organizations, and businesses.

Vet where you want to submit your script (who’s reading them, the prizes, the level of exposure), and don’t feel like you need to apply to everything under the sun. Some of the network programs are free, but other contests can get expensive due to the cost of those businesses hiring readers and running admin. Always submit your best work when you feel the script is ready to be seen. You got this!

*All dates and fees are subject to change. Always double check on the contest’s website for the most up-to-date information.

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Check out a list of 2022 contests aggregated by Lauri Donahue

Viacom CBS Writers Mentoring Program: Website

Submission period: March 1st through May 1st*

Submission fee: Free

Application: CBS application, letter of interest, work resume or bio, submission release form

Material: Two writing samples required – one original pilot script and one spec script based off of a current network or cable show (tone of both pieces should be the same)**

Disney/ABC TV Writing Program: Website

Submission period: May 2nd through June 1st*

Submission fee: Free

Application: Release form, resume, essay, letter of recommendation (optional but strongly encouraged)

Material: Two writing samples required – one original pilot script and one spec script based off of a current network or cable show (live action, at least second season, tonally Disney/ABC)**

NBCUniversal Writers on the Verge: Website

Submission period: May 1st through May 10th* (short window this year)

Submission fee: Free

Application: A release form, answers to two short essay questions, resume

Material: Two original pilots (half-hour or one-hour – no more specs).**

Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship: Website

Submission period: Month of July*

Submission fee: Free

Application: Current resume & half-page biography

Material: Must be a comedic half-hour spec script based on a network, cable, or streaming show. Show must be in the second season at least.**

WB Television Workshop: Website

Submission period: May 1st through May 31st*

Submission fee: $30*

Application: Resume, short composition on your background, submission agreement

Material: You can submit up to two spec scripts. It must be a show listed on their website.**

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Austin Film Festival: Website

Submission period: March 31st, April 20th, May 15th

Submission fee: $35 early, $45 regular, $60 late

Material: Original pilot script**

Final Draft Big Break: Website

Submission period:  Approximately March – July 23rd

Submission fee: $45 early, $55 standard, $75 extended

Material: Half-hour or hour-length original pilot or spec of an existing show

LaunchPad Pilots Competition: Website

Submission period: April 1st – May 31st

Submission fee: $65 early, $75 regular, $85 late, $95 finish

Material: Original specs only.

Scriptapalooza: Website

Submission period: Deadline is April 15th

Submission fee: $45

Material: You can submit an original pilot or a spec of an existing show. Reality shows are accepted as well.

Script Pipeline: Website

Submission period: The early deadline is March 1st. The late deadline is May 1st.*

Submission fee: $50 regular, $55 late

Material: Original pilot or spec of current show (half-hour or hour-long)

TrackingB Pilot Competition: Website

Submission period: January 22nd to May 4th

Submission fee: $89 early entry, $99 late entry, $109 really late entry

Material: Original spec

**All dates and fees are subject to change. Check out each contest’s website for the full facts and details about submission criteria. Remember to look into age requirements, how many scripts you can submit, if they ask for a logline or synopsis, rules about submitting previously submitted scripts or scripts that have been sold, genre expectations, etc…

Related Articles: Feature Screenwriting Competitions