In recent months, Hollywood has been experiencing an unprecedented event not often seen in the industry, a dual strike from both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). These strikes have essentially shut down the majority of TV and film productions.
Why is this situation happening? There are a multitude of reasons, but the problem mainly boils down to two larger components: the rise of both streaming and AI. In previous contracts that these guilds had with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the actors and writers would get residuals when their show or movie was played on TV. However, this agreement does not apply to online videos, and because of the rise in streaming popularity, even with the biggest shows, the writers and actors see next to nothing in residuals. Additionally, both writers and actors are starting to see the effects of AI in the industry. To cut costs, studios have started using AI to write scripts, as well as using digital scans of background actors and inserting their likeness into scenes without their permission.
At the time of writing this article, the WGA has struck a deal with the AMPTP after being on strike for 148 days. However, SAG-AFTRA continues to strike, leading to all productions continuing to be at a standstill.
So, how will this situation affect your media buys? It comes down to the available programming. Scripted TV shows haven’t been able to film because the actors haven’t been working. Networks have been scrambling to fill their nightly schedules as opposed to running reruns. This situation has led to an increase in reality tv, game shows, and broadcast spots. Additionally, networks are turning to their exclusive streaming programming to fill some of the gaps, such as the popular Paramount+ show “Yellowstone” airing on CBS.
The negotiations are still ongoing, so hopefully both sides can come to a fair agreement and TV programs can return to normal soon enough.