Hollywood film and television writers go on strike today in a move that will slowly cripple the big media production machine.
The strike relates to demands by writers for higher residual payments for DVD sales and internet downloads, and follows the breakdown of 3 months of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
The Writers Guild of America last went on strike in 1988, in a dispute that lasted 5 months.
Shows expected to immediately disappear from the airwaves include NBC’s Tonight Show and Late Night, CBS’ Late Show and Late, Late Show, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
Producers have been aware of the possibility of a strike for some months and have stockpiled scripts and show episodes so most regular pre-recorded shows should not be affected for the immediate future, however if the strike lasts over the longer term it is likely that the networks will start resorting to reruns and game shows to fill airtime as fresh product runs out.
The strike poses an interesting challenge for television at a time where internet usage has surpassed TV viewing time in most homes. Users are already choosing online entertainment over TV, how many more will switch off their televisions when their favorite shows stop going to air? These eyeballs present a real opportunity for online content creators at all levels; from the VC funded video startups through to the DIY part timers. The trends in viewer numbers have all been headed online to this point, this strike could well accelerate this trend, particularly if it lasts over the long term. It will be a chance for millions online to bloom.*
*apologies to Mao.
Image Credit: LA Times