When television first began, radio was in full force and had clear guidelines that did not necessarily transfer to television. In radio there were a bunch of independent stations that had there own programs that were uninfluenced by the networks. The independent stations would take their successful television shows and pitch them to the networks as television shows. At first most Independent production companies created the pre-recorded series or telefilm, during a time when most tv series were shot live. Desilu was the first company to do telefilm, with the hit show I Love Lucy. At first the networks did not want this model but soon discovered how profitable it could be. Telefilm was created by independents are soon all the networks wanted to use it. The indie companies would produce almost all the shows that were playing in the prime time slots on television.
The networks were interested in partnering with the indie producers because they would be able to produce the series at low costs that would yield a huge profit depending on the show. It was less of a risk because the first shows were based off of already known popular ideas, as was the case with I Love Lucy, which also created the situation comedy. The independent companies created a solid model for the tv series that although was experimental in its birth soon grew largely commercial and static. Later, as Desi Arnaz of Desilu, learned years later when he tried to stray from the model. No network would air his show Fountain of Youth. He essentially created a monster.
What ultimately happened to the independent production companies is exactly what happened to the independent films. Hollywood saw a great opportunity to earn money and power and it took it. In the late 1950’s after television started to take off, Hollywood decided to stake its claim in television by producing high budget shows that wouldn’t make a profit and were able to soften the blow by the big budget films they profited from. In the end it came down to money. The production companies who were willing to create good show for cheap were upstaged by the high quality big budget films of Hollywood.