This season of my favorite show ended on a cliffhanger. Immediately, my Tik Tok was filled with advice to watch it as much as possible, bump up those numbers, and get Netflix to renew. There were fan videos with scenes from the show, vloggers laying out the case for another season, and fans sharing their favorite scenes. But unfortunately, the show wasn’t renewed. This is how I ended up down a Tik Tok rabbit hole in an area called “film production Tik Tok”. I discovered several shows and releases for 2024/2025 have been canceled. I realized the 2023 release list is surprisingly short. This immediately got me thinking, which then got me researching.
In Nov 2022, it was clear that something was on the horizon:
“The outlook for the next six months is starting to look a lot like it did in the summer and fall of 2007, the last time the entertainment industry’s biggest employers faced a work stoppage with the Writers Guild of America.” – https://variety.com/2022/biz/news/wga-strike-hollywood-labor-1235429223/
“Netflix, Amazon and Apple have pumped billions of dollars of new capital into the content business over the past decade. Now, as Netflix reaches the promised land of profitability, its appetite for spending to drive subscriber growth is changing.”
You may be asking, “Why now?!” Well let me tell you. The Writer’s Guild of America is holding out strong. Contract negotiations are underway, which are evidently long overdue. “pivotal 2023 round of contract talks covering film and television projects, the first to occur since COVID-19 disrupted the last round of talks two years ago.” https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/writers-guild-negotiating-committee-2023-contract-1235256804/
“The biggest issue in the negotiations, as always, will be over economic terms. Writer-centric social media channels are replete with stories of scribes receiving residual payments for streaming reruns that wouldn’t cover dinner for two at The Cheesecake Factory.” https://variety.com/2022/biz/news/wga-strike-hollywood-labor-1235429223/
Though there were lengthy negotiations, a settlement wasn’t reached and the strike has begun. These results will affect the TV landscape for the year. Picket lines are shutting down production. “The focus on shutdowns, which rely on the cooperation of fellow workplace unions, is a remarkable shift for the Writers Guild. During its previous strike in 2007-08, when it found itself far more isolated and at odds with its nominal labor allies, there was no equivalent strategy. Now the guild finds itself the beneficiary of unity, in alignment with the fractious Hollywood worker caucus of other unions, each nursing their own set of at times overlapping grievances, and eager to soften the ground for their own contract negotiations.” https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/writers-shut-it-down-strategy-1235503828/
What Does This Mean for the Viewer?
There are more shows than ever and smaller writer rooms with less episodes per season. Think of your favorite streaming show, how many episodes did you watch? 10 or was it even less? How will this trend affect the consumer? Especially if contract terms fall short of expectations.
“What if Netflix decides it doesn’t need a new show every week? What if Amazon decides to drop to only a few big shows a year? If they don’t lose Prime customers, are they going to care?” asks a senior talent agency executive who is nervously eyeing the marketplace.” https://variety.com/2022/biz/news/wga-strike-hollywood-labor-1235429223/
What Does This Mean for the Advertiser?
Sure people threaten to cancel a streaming service upon learning their favorite show was canceled, but will they actually? If subscriber numbers drastically start dropping, how will this affect advertisers? Everyone, including the writers, are wondering about the data compiled by streaming services. Something that streaming services have long held close to their chest.
“At some point, the companies must be forced to open the black box and share data with unions and profit participants.” https://deadline.com/2022/11/writers-guild-contract-negotiating-committee-writers-strike-fears-1235165788/
As advertisers are existing in the realm of streaming, how do we know what eyeballs we’re getting? What if the account holder is your demo but they have the rest of the family on the account? These are all questions that access to data could help answer.
Contract negotiations are still happening, so we should start seeing the results soon. Only then will we find out the ramifications for consumers, advertisers, and our favorite TV shows. Fingers crossed!