The strike by the Writers Guild of America continues to drag on, with the writers this week rejecting a new proposal from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that offered $130m in additional compensation to writers.
The sticking point continues to be compensation for online sales and revenue, with the Writers Guild claiming that the new offer of $250 for a year’s reuse of an hour long program streamed on the Web was not enough when compared to the normal $20,000 payment made per year for re-runs of a program.
Further talks between both parties are set to resume this week, but unless one party backs down from its current position the strike will go on over Christmas and into the new year.
The immediate effect of the strike saw a number of topical daily talk shows go off air, including NBC’s Tonight Show and Late Night, CBS’ Late Show and Late, Late Show and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The networks had stockpiled scripted drama and comedy shows prior to the strike, but as the strike drags on these stocks are running out. Viewers in the United States won’t be presented with static, but they will soon be presented with reruns and cheap to produce reality TV shows and gameshows as the networks scramble to fill the gaps.
Younger audiences are already switching off TV, with various surveys indicating that a growing number of viewers prefer the internet over television. Consider that during the last Writers Strike in 1988 television lost roughly 10% of its audience after the strike, and at a time where there was fewer alternatives for entertainment. Today a viewing audience presented with reruns and reality TV has alternatives, and the internet will be the number one alternative; a switch away from TV today could be as big or even bigger than it was in 1988 and would benefit nearly every part of the long tail of online content providers.
Here’s a quick list of TV shows that will go off air in the coming months. Even if the Writers go back to work tomorrow the networks have already started firing staff so it will take time now to re-hire staff resulting in a delay in restarting production.
House (FOX): three episodes left scheduled for January
Samantha Who? (ABC): six episodes left
Family Guy (FOX): mix of new episodes and repeats through January
CSI x 3, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Without a Trace and Cold Case (CBS): four or less episodes each
Ugly Betty, Pushing Daisies and Grey’s Anatomy (ABC): two episodes left
Desperate Housewives (ABC): last episode to be shown Sunday
The Office (NBC): 0
Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Two And a Half Men, Rules of Engagement: 0
24 (FOX): postponed indefinitely