United States | The First Crisis in the Era of Live Broadcasting: Writers’ Strike in Eight Keys

Hollywood Writers StrikeAnd As a result of the lack of agreement between the union WGA And the big studios (Universal, Paramount) and platforms (Netflix, Amazon, Apple), under one umbrella PTAMP (Alliance of Film and Television Producers), keeps the sector in suspense, while actors and presenters do not stop joining their demands.

This is the first downtime that has occurred in the midst of the streaming era, and in fact, the new rules of the game brought about by the platform’s boom are part of the problem. In an increasingly globalized audiovisual market, will protest affect the Spanish public? And lingering in the background is another fundamental question, or for screenwriters, somewhat existential: Is the business platform as sustainable as it is today? Let’s review the situation through eight issues.

What does the book ask?

Looking for the book Salary increasesIn addition to structural changes In a business model that supports the shows and movies they write for. According to WGA statistics, the average salary for writers and producers has fallen 4%, or 23% when adjusted for inflation, over the past decade. The association is claiming approximately $600 million in salary increases and improvements to the “residual”, the compensation they receive each time their product is re-released.

They also want an audience-based “surplus” to reward the most watched shows, and for that they are It requires transparency In numbers, it’s a section where streaming platforms are very vague. Among the more contentious points, and which the studios flatly rejected, were the guild’s proposals to assign a fixed number of writers to the series (between 6 and 12, depending on the number of episodes) and to guarantee a minimum number of workweeks per season. (between 10 and 52). It is also required Regulating the use of artificial intelligenceso that it is not used as a body text or for rewriting material.

What did they lose with the “boom” of “live broadcasting” platforms?

In the old days, a screenwriter could collect “leftovers” every time a series was sold again: to air it on channels other than the original channel, channels in other countries, or to exploit it on DVD (although during the 2007- 2008 was also fought for, among other causes, better distribution of the benefits of these physical releases). This feature has disappeared due to the reluctance of “streamers” to distribute their material outside of their virtual walls.

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In a recent “share” on Tumblr, the recommended director Mike Flanagan He recounted (The Haunting of Hill House, ‘Midnight Mass’) that while working at Netflix he fought hard and nail to get his work released on Blu-ray and DVD and that they relentlessly rejected the idea.

Although they had some commitments to certain titles, or had “partners” who valued physical releases, and even dabbled with the idea of ​​releasing Stranger Things, that wasn’t at all a priority for them. In fact, they were actively trying to eliminate On all kinds of launching their business model. His priority is subscriptions.

Is the business platform sustainable?

“Netflix Puts Content Above Costs, But Is This Policy Sustainable?” Read the headline on ‘The Guardian’ in May 2018 far, almost naive. Analysts and, sure, contributors have been asking this question for some time, but it was only in 2022 — when it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter and nearly 1 million subscribers in the next — that the platform began to calm its forced spending a bit: it invested $16.7 billion in content, That is 4.6% less than in 2021.

In a turn of events, it decided to stick to a budget of about $17 billion through 2023, but last year it told its employees to “spend subscribers’ money wisely” and began a serious wave of cancellations, which has been reported. Warner Bros. added.

Discovery through a process of refining HBO Max’s catalog includes canceled renewals or extractions of once emblematic titles like “Westworld” or “Raised by wolves.” Even Apple, which has been generally generous and cautious with its productions, has begun canceling the series prematurely: “A Place in Heaven” will not have a second season.

How will it affect production (and by extension, users)?

They are the first to be affected by this strike night shows Big series, such as “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (NBC), “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS), and “Jimmy Kimmel live!” (ABC), in which the writers feed the presenters jokes about current events. At the moment, they have already started airing reruns.

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legendary “Saturday Night Live”, from NBC, may also close this week. The next “victims” will be TV soapwhich are usually written six weeks in advance and could have their seasons shortened or their filming delayed, as has already happened with the pandemic.

If the strike continues into the summer, the free TV fall season will also be delayed. But it is likely that the public will not notice the interruption until the fall, because projects launched from September begin to be prepared in May or June. Until then, it can be depicted with what has already been depicted. effect will be long term in the cinemasince it works in advance: premieres will not be affected until the last quarter of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.

What kind of content will we see if production is not reinvigorated?

The answer seems obvious: more “reality shows.” They (barely) need a script and most of the producers who come up with their narrative lines are not affiliated with any union. More specials are sure to drop direct from ‘love is blind’ (despite the first technical disaster), “celebrity” pictures in style “I’m Georgina” Franchise differences “Rich women in & mldr;”. On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that any fan of scripted fiction would have a shortage of titles to watch for a few months.

The excesses of the “Peak TV” era have created a catalog fund that is impossible to exhaust. If you can see a positive point in this entertainment crisis, it is the opportunity that this strike allows us to catch up with the many “prestige” series of which we only see one episode or perhaps none.

How long can the strike last?

At the moment it is undefined, So it depends on how the negotiations between WGA and AMPTP progress in the future. There are experts who predict some Four months of conflict. The last time Hollywood screenwriters suspended their activities, in November 2007, the strike lasted nearly 100 days and cost the industry $2.1 billion like him Separation of 37,000 professionals.

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A series of big clouds at the time, such as “too bad, desperate housewives and the office, were among those affected. There had been similar outages before in 1988 (five months), 1985 (two weeks), 1981 (three months), 1973 (three and a half months) and 1960 (about five months), but this is the first strike in the broadcasting era. . ‘.

Is this hit significant in the globalized audiovisual scene?

Although the consequences of the strike have already been seen in the short term in the United States, particularly on free-to-air television, as it is the first in broadcast era The rules of the game are very different. Obviously, “Made in the USA” production still reigns supreme, but there are emerging markets, such as koreanwho provide a physical assortment in this The globalized audiovisual landscape created by the platforms.

You just have to remember “boom”Squid game Or, back home, the repercussions it has had internationally Stealing money. “We have a wide base of new series and movies from around the world, so we can probably serve our members better than most,” he said. Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix. So for “streaming” platforms, it would be key if they had it Domestic production is supported or not In countries other than the United States, regardless of whether they have a good “wardrobe background”.

Are there potential talks in the near future?

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So far no meeting has taken place. AMPTP left the negotiating table, considering that the WGA was unreasonable, just as the WGA thought of AMPTP. There will be no more conversations until both parties really want to have it.

For now, the writers seem intent on making themselves heard only in picket lines and the executives are focused on developing contingency plans. If the lockdown continues, a federal broker may come into play, but this has proven ineffective in other recent Hollywood strikes.

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