Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Writers Guild of America (WGA) Strike Ends with Tentative Agreement
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which lasted a staggering 148 days, has finally come to an end. The strike left many people out of work in Hollywood and caused significant disruptions in the entertainment industry. However, a tentative agreement has been reached between the guild and the studios, bringing hope for a brighter future.
The agreement reached includes several major gains for the writers. It includes AI guardrails, viewership-based residuals, writers room minimums, pay raises, and other significant provisions. The WGA leadership has hailed these gains as “exceptional” and a major victory for the writers’ cause.
Despite the relief brought by the end of the strike, there is still uncertainty looming in the television industry. Many professionals working in the industry are unsure about its future. The industry is expected to contract and face increased competition. Budgets are being reeled in, leading to fewer overall deals and, possibly, more cancellations.
One surprising aspect of this strike is the expectation of a decrease in spec scripts flooding the market. Unlike previous strikes, writers were fully invested in the strike and did not have as much time to write. Some industry insiders predict that there will be fewer spec scripts available, even though there are a significant number of projects ready to go out when networks and streamers reopen.
The post-strike marketplace is expected to be less receptive, with buyers indicating that they will be buying and making less. Cancellations and unrenewals have already occurred, and more are expected as networks and streamers reevaluate their slates. The development process for networks and streamers is likely to see cuts, with projects in early stages being released.
However, there is still hope. The 2024 pilot season may still be salvaged, as networks are expected to aggressively buy new pitches and roll over some development from before the strike. Show budgets are expected to be smaller across the board, even at generous places. The average cost per episode for dramas is estimated to be around $4.5 million-$5 million, while comedies will likely see about half of that budget.
The overall deal market is also expected to tighten, with streamers and studios becoming more selective about who they sign deals with. This may lead to further challenges for writers and industry professionals.
While it is common for the industry to experience a pullback after a strike, some insiders believe that the decline may not be temporary. They fear that the industry will not reach the same level as before the strike due to permanent losses. Only time will tell what lies ahead for the television industry in the wake of this historic strike.