Prolonged Strike Taking Its Toll

In the latest fallout from the writer’s strike, the Television Critics Association has canceled their winter press tour. The fate of the event–where networks and cable channels promote their upcoming programming–has been hanging in the balance since NBC pulled out last month. But in the face of the breakup of contract negotiations and mounting logistical concerns, the networks and TCA executive board finally decided to pull the plug.

Meanwhile, NBC has begun reimbursing advertisers for fourth-quarter primetime ratings shortfall, the first time in years a network has been forced to take such a step. The current soft ratings aren’t a result of the WGA strike–which has yet to have a significant effect on programming–but a sign of larger problems facing the industry.

The full effect of the strike will start taking effect in January, when most networks will begin running out of scripted programming. CBS, NBC and Fox have already unveiled their upcoming schedule of midseason scripted shows, reality programming and judicious repeats.

If the strike lasts another four to six weeks it could disrupt pilot production for the 2008 season. In that case, the networks may be forced to renew all their existing series for next fall and put off launching any new shows until midseason 2009, a particularly dismal scenario for television viewers.

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One thought on “Prolonged Strike Taking Its Toll

  1. I wonder if it’s true to say the strike hasn’t affected viewership already. I’m sure there are some folks who just went “Well, it’s not like we’re going to find out what happens” for some of the character-driven shows and so they just gave up early figuring there wasn’t much point investing themselves in a shortened season.

    As to pilot season, I’m guessing that most writer who sold pilot pitches are quietly toiling away at home on their scripts at the moment and if we get back to work before February we’ll have shortened pilot season, but I think we’ll still get it in. There will just (hopefully) be fewer network and studio notes, which really, can only be a good thing. If not, the studios (not sure about the networks) still own the pilot scripts they passed on last season. And just because they passed doesn’t mean they aren’t good (nor does it mean they are). So those are other possible scripts that could be used for new pilots.

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