The Screenwriters Strike Back
By: Kaydee Ambas · May 10, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes
Over 11,000 film and television writers have gone on strike, seeking higher compensation and residuals, arguing their earnings have not kept up with the massive revenue generated by streaming services
The entertainment industry’s total earnings have gone up from $155 billion 10 years ago to more than $220 billion today. These earnings include revenue from box office, home video, television subscriber payments, advertising, and streaming, with most of the growth attributed to the popularity of streaming services. Major players in the industry have shifted to a model that prioritizes streaming, and the share of total revenue from traditional film and television markets has been decreasing as a result.
This is the first major strike by the Writers Guild of America, or WGA, since 2008.
Showdown in Showbiz
The writers’ strike has already sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, leading to the immediate halt of daily late-night shows, as well as the iconic, long-running sketch comedy Saturday Night Live.
High-profile films and television shows have also suspended production, leaving many highly-anticipated projects in limbo. Netflix’s (NFLX) Stranger Things, Disney’s (DIS) Blade, and AppleTV’s (AAPL) Severance are just a few examples.
Even though it is not scripted television, the live broadcast of the MTV Movie Awards was canceled after a number of actors and presenters stepped away in solidarity with writers, underscoring that the impact of this labor action goes beyond writers and the content they create.
Viewer Discretion Advised
The previous writers’ strike in 2008 lasted for 100 days. In the end, it cost the industry an estimated $2 billion.
While viewers may not immediately feel the effects of the current strike as already-produced episodes of popular shows continue on their normal release schedules, the production of future seasons may face significant delays, and some shows could see a shortened number of episodes.
On the flip side, this strike could also lead to a more equitable pay structure for writers, ensuring the creative minds behind your favorite shows receive their fair share and can comfortably create them for years to come. Plus, if production does pause, it could be an opportunity to catch up on the surplus of great shows released recently — or simply revisit your time-tested favorites.
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