The Hollywood writers’ strike is now grinding into its twelfth week. I have a lot of friends in LA who are writers who are feeling the pain. But make no mistake: the writers’ strike does not just affect writers, but rather an entire industry and tens of thousands of people. As glamorous as the entertainment business appears from the outside, the truth is it is an industry like any other whose continued operation is made possible by regular people with kids, mortgages, car payments and credit card bills.
The last writers’ strike was over DVD revenue sharing (mostly) and the writers really took one in the chops. The by-product of that last strike was the rise in prominence of cable TV and reality programming. Indeed, for every loser, there is a winner. Once the average TV viewer starts to get fed up with reruns of their favorite shows, they will start to look elsewhere for entertainment. I have believed since the beginning of the current strike that if it dragged on too long and people began to look elsewhere, THEY MIGHT NOT COME BACK TO TV. Sound far fetched?
A recent study from Burst Media which is instructive but not definitive, shows that 40% of respondents "expect to use the internet more for entertainment purposes if their favorite TV shows are shown only in reruns." I do not believe the internet will replace TV in the near-term, but cable TV was a something of a wasteland and a bit of a joke before the last writers’ strike. How many of us now turn to cable FIRST when looking for something to watch?
Here’s hoping the strike ends soon, everyone gets back to work and no more pain is inflicted on the workaday folks who make up the backbone of the Hollywood workforce. But remember, every day that goes by without a settlement is another day of lost viewers who will need a hell of a lot better reason to come back to TV than "The Moment of Truth." (I refuse to link to it. If you don’t know what it is, consider yourself better off. If you’re curious, it’ll only take a second to find.)