WGA strike continues to affect shows

By on October 22, 2008

The Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) 100-day strike should be old news by now; however, the events, which ended this past February, are still demonstrating their powerful effect on some of America’s favorite television shows. The long break between the strike and the continuation of long-lost shows has proven to have negative effects on the entertainment industry. As a result of the strike, many television series were cancelled. Yet, the majority tried to resurface this September as competition increased, releasing the premieres of newer, more exciting shows.

Networks like ABC and NBC chose not to immediately bring back their freshman shows and decided to re-launch them with the rest of the fall debuts. The walk-out writers also contributed instant panic to television talk shows like the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which heavily depend on writers to devise comedy skits and scenarios.

In general, the entertainment industry provides billions of dollars annually to Los Angeles’ economy; it also drives local tourism. So, one can only imagine the profound effect such an incident can provoke.

Despite the networks’ aims at redemptive strategies and capturing the same vast audiences pre-strike, ratings were low and so were the amount of viewers tuning in. Did shows not coming back after the strike hurt broadcast television? You bet. It is evident that major television networks have made serious mistakes in delaying the return of certain shows. After all, audiences most often look elsewhere for entertainment instead of waiting around for the return of their favorite shows.

Bill Carroll, director of programming for the Katz TV Group, recently told Entertainment Weekly that “Holding back the shows after the strike certainly has not proven to be the best decision. We are creatures of habit, and when we no longer have the opportunity to watch our favorite show or our new favorite shows, we move on. At this point, viewers have not returned.”

Shows like NBC’s Heroes and ABC’s Pushing Daisies both returned recently. Even though audiences may be excited to see them emerge again, many viewers do not even care to pay attention. With the premiere of Pushing Daisies this fall, the amount of viewers from last season dropped 52 percent and for Heroes, 41 percent, according to the Nielsen ratings report. It appears as though networks have just dug themselves into deeper holes by postponing further episodes of their shows until now. However, CBS reveled in the glory as they continued their normal schedule as soon as the strike ended.

CBS gave viewers something to watch during the hiatus. In television ratings for Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, the top 20 broadcast shows were listed and CBS had the most shows in total compared to ABC, Fox, and NBC (Nielsens). CBS is doing something right to gain the attention of audiences everywhere. Shows like CSI: NY, Two and a Half Men and Survivor: Gabon have proven themselves quite addicting to some.

The CW has proven itself to be worthy competition with loyal television viewers still tuning in to new episodes of Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill, both of which endured hardships during the strike. Even more surprising, ratings have actually increased on CW’s Monday night shows, due to their wide-range demographic of die-hard teenage fans lusting over these juicy dramas.

Still, the strike has left a mark on major television networks. These networks are now beginning to realize that many people are not so concerned with watching television right away when their favorite shows are on. After all, iTunes houses episodes from major networks, which can be downloaded for a small fee and many shows can now be viewed online at the networks’ websites.

Some excitement and new material certainly needs to be released in order to keep audiences interested in catching their favorite shows at their broadcast time slots. These different networks have their work cut out for them to make a comeback against the long-term effects of the WGA strike.


About Daniella Appolonia