The Hollywood writers’ strike has surpassed 120 days and the U.S’s labor market is starting to feel the effects. The motion picture and sound recording industries lost 17,000 jobs “reflecting strike activity,” according to an employment report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Writers Guild America and SAG-AFTRA are demanding concessions like increased pay and job security. The viewer migration to streaming services has impacted how writers get paid, and writers have argued the new model doesn’t fairly compensate them. Streamed shows have fewer episodes and longer breaks between seasons in comparison to broadcast TV series. This means smaller paychecks for writers. There are also far fewer residuals, or those checks paid out to writers and actors after the show airs.
SAG-AFTRA is striking in solidarity with writers, but has its own list of demands – higher pay along with more contributions to pension and healthcare funds as well as recalculated residuals members are paid through streaming service revenue. The union also wants changes for the self-taping audition process and, like writers, protection against the use of AI.
The striking writers and actors and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have yet to find common ground. In addition, a Gallup poll showed most Americans support the actors and writers on strike.
Over 11,000 writers joined the first Hollywood strike in 15 years in response to the ripple effects of the streaming industry. The strike leaves the fate of the 2023-2024 television season up in the air along with several movie projects. In the meantime, networks are filling in fall season programming gaps with reality TV and game shows. ABC, for example, is reaching for unscripted shows like Dancing with the Stars to fill the void left by Jimmy Kimmel Live!, mockumentary Abbott Elementary and other scripted shows.