The recent 148-day Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike has left an indelible mark on the Television industry, reshaping the business and marketplace dynamics as it reopens post-strike. The tentative agreement reached between the guild and the studios has been termed as "exceptional," encompassing AI guardrails, viewership-based residuals, writers room minimums, pay raises, and other significant gains. However, as the dust settles, the TV industry is bracing for a phase of accelerated contraction, heightened competition, reeled-in budgets, fewer overall deals, and possibly more cancellations. This article delves into the aftermath of the strike, exploring the challenges and the evolving landscape of the TV business.
The 148-day WGA strike culminated in an "exceptional" agreement, addressing several longstanding issues including AI guardrails and viewership-based residuals.
The TV industry is expected to face a phase of accelerated contraction with more competition, reeled-in budgets, and fewer overall deals.
Unlike the 2007-2008 strike, writers were more invested in picketing, resulting in fewer spec scripts prepared for the market.
The market is expected to be less receptive post-strike, with buyers anticipated to buy and make less.
The 2024 pilot season can still be salvaged with aggressive buying strategies from networks.
Show budgets are expected to shrink, marking the end of the "streaming gold rush" that led to an overall deal boom a couple of years ago.
The industry is in a phase of pullback with fewer staffing jobs available amid show cancellations, fewer script buys, and fewer term deals.
The Deadline article highlights the mixed emotions in the industry as it reopens post-strike. The joy of resuming work is tempered by the uncertainty of what the business and marketplace would look like moving forward. The industry is expected to face a phase of accelerated contraction, more competition, reeled-in budgets, fewer overall deals, and possibly more cancellations. This scenario is a stark contrast to the 2007-2008 strike where writers were focused on preparing spec scripts for the market. This time around, the writers were more invested in picketing, showcasing a heightened level of commitment to their cause.
The market's receptivity post-strike is another area of concern. Casey Bloys, Chairman and CEO of HBO and Max Content, termed this phase as an "existential" moment for the industry during his appearance at the Code Conference. The sentiment resonates with the broader industry outlook, where buyers are anticipated to buy and make less. The cautious approach from buyers is a reflection of the uncertain times the industry is navigating through, further exacerbated by the ongoing global pandemic.
The 2024 pilot season, however, presents a glimmer of hope. Despite the current broadcast season being massively impacted by the strike, industry sources expect networks to be aggressive in buying new pitches along with some development rolled over from before the strike. This strategy could potentially salvage the 2024 pilot season, reigniting the spark of creativity and innovation in the industry.
Budget constraints are another reality the industry has to grapple with. The era of generous budgets seems to be waning, with an industry insider estimating that broadcast dramas would cost on average $4.5 million-$5 million per episode, and about half of that for comedy. Even streamers, known for their hefty budgets, are expected to exercise financial prudence moving forward.
The "streaming gold rush" that led to an overall deal boom a couple of years ago appears to be officially over. The strike saw some pacts expire, and they won't be renewed, marking a shift in the industry's approach towards overall deals. Only high-profile talent tied to big shows are expected to get extensions, indicating a tighter overall deal market.
The industry is undoubtedly in a phase of pullback, with fewer staffing jobs available amid show cancellations, fewer script buys, and fewer term deals. The strike-influenced 2023 dip is not seen as an anomaly but a reflection of the evolving landscape of the TV business. The industry is at a crossroads, and the decisions made now will shape the trajectory of the TV business in the years to come.
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