The last time there was a writers strike, "reality shows" like "Cops" were one result - another was a slippage in the number of viewers. Things are different now - unlike 1988, there are lots and lots of choices for eyeballs, from video games to the internet - Duncan Riley of TechCrunch nails that issue here:
The strike poses an interesting challenge for television at a time where internet usage has surpassed TV viewing time in most homes. Users are already choosing online entertainment over TV, how many more will switch off their televisions when their favorite shows stop going to air? These eyeballs present a real opportunity for online content creators at all levels; from the VC funded video startups through to the DIY part timers. The trends in viewer numbers have all been headed online to this point, this strike could well accelerate this trend, particularly if it lasts over the long term. It will be a chance for millions online to bloom
The writers think this is like a baseball strike, but I'm not sure they're right. There is a limited supply of top notch left handers who can throw strikes - there's no such shortage of writers. It's not as if the plotlines on most shows take enormous amounts of thought, either - most middling novelists have deeper plots than the average TV show.
I am completely convinced that the producers are screwing over the writers - these are the same clowns that guide the "thinking" behind the RIAA and the MPAA, after all. However, I'm also convinced that the writers have way, way less leverage than they think. Any strike breaking ballplayer has to live in the same locker room with the other players later. A writer? Last time I looked, creative writing required a networked PC, and that requirement doesn't involve any day to day contact with the current writers. Unfortunately for the writers, I just don't think they hold the cards they think they do.
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