Monday, February 11, 2008

What the Writers Strike Really Accomplished

It looks like the WGA labor action will be coming to an end in the next couple of days. The show runners are heading back to work today, so that's a pretty good indication that the union anticipates a positive vote from the membership on Tuesday evening. (

There is already a lot of talk about what the writers accomplished with their job action. The most important provisions of the new deal would appear to be those which focus on the writers compensation in connection with new media (including mobile), both original and derivatives of broadcast shows. Is it a good deal? At first glance, it would appear to be pretty good as it ties into a lot of the current television provisions. However, I still don't think we know enough about the ultimate digital media landscape to determine what constitutes a good deal. Everyone is still doing a lot of speculating and projecting of possible scenarios.

What's more interesting is that the 14-week strike used up the inventory of new television shows. This appears to have driven viewers towards the Internet looking for different content. Although the strike is over, many of those viewers will continue to visit the digital media outlets they discovered during the strike.

So perhaps the most important impact of the strike is that it not only helped set a framework for the compensation of creative personnel in the new media environment, but it also contributed to the speed of evolution towards that new model. That seems ironic, but if the WGA has indeed cut a good deal in connection with new media, then I would call it a double win.

Personally, I like anything that helps speed the transition to a new, stable digital media environment with enough users to create a critical mass of revenue. So, while I never like any job action or other event which slows down production, this one might have had an unanticipated positive impact. I'm glad it's over, but perhaps it wasn't all bad.

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