WGA STRIKE CENTRAL
As the possibility of a Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike loomed large, we’ve been gathering more detail on how the strike could impact the media business-network television, cable, syndication, agencies and advertisers. The strike will likely immediately shut down production on much of what’s currently airing on TV. The biggest immediate impact is live shows-especially Late Night. The networks, stockpiling episodes of their fall prime shows, say they are prepared to go into early January without major disruptions.
One of the big four, which didn’t want to go on the record, told TVBR they are prepared for the strike and for the time being their schedule will remain intact. For competitive reasons they are not talking about contingency plans, but they’re looking at repeats, reality, possible sister cable shows and other options.
Meanwhile, November sweeps started last night and run through 11/28. The 2007-08 season began 9/24 and will end 5/21/08. The fall season started 9/24 and unofficially stretches thru the last Sunday of December, 12/30. The mid-season starts as soon as any new shows debut after Jan. 1. That is when the rubber will really hit the road with the strike. The networks for now know they have some bargaining time and are in turn singing "Time is on my side."
Let’s say on the upside they have eight episodes left, on average, altogether. If they walk now, the nets will air the four shows they usually air during the November sweeps. December will be mostly repeats and the Holiday-themed episode. After that, you have a handful more. Will they save them for the February sweeps? They’d have three. They’re coming up short.