Thursday, May 08, 2008

Another strike?

Cue the violins.

Network viewing is way down following the Writers Strike. ABC alone is off a whopping 24% since they began their “Welcome back” or “Welcome home” or “Your little friends have returned” or whatever the hell their campaign slogan was. Meanwhile, the number of people watching television has gone up 2%. So people are watching. They’re just not watching YOU.

Even bulletproof hits like GREY’S ANATOMY and ER are taking big hits. AMERICAN IDOL’S numbers are also down (even with the most talented group of performers since Bucky Covington). One time big hits like HEROES are in the shitter (The hell with the goddamn cheerleader. Save YOURSELVES.)

Trying to put a good spin on things, networks are saying that a few new big hits next year and the viewers will all be right back.


They didn’t come back after the 88 strike. Collectively, the four of you couldn’t come up with even one breakout hit last year. And this year you’ve made fewer pilots and many of those are just “presentations” (cheap approximations of what the shows might look like). You don’t have as many existing hits so launching these new shows will be harder. And to make matters worse, your competitors (the dreaded cable) are rolling out new shows far more interesting than yours (like AMC’s MAD MEN).

And here’s the thing ABCCBSNBCFOX– it all could have been avoided.

When the AMPTP chose to push the WGA to strike, believing they could corner them into taking a bad deal, they did so fully aware that this network erosion could occur. It did in 88 and there were fewer options for viewers in those days (no internet, no GRAND THEFT AUTO, no pillates). The deal you finally struck could have been settled long before November 1st. The season could have gone on uninterrupted, next year’s movie slate would have rolled out as planned, and much financial hardship would have been avoided. Same deal. Same terms. And you would have had the Golden Globes to boot.

Why do I bring this up now?

Because the SAG contract is up in a few months. And from what I’ve seen your negotiating tactics with them are the same you used with us. Stonewalling. Blaming the other side. For everyone’s sake…even YOURS… negotiate in good faith for once and reach the deal now that you’d make in October. Otherwise, IRON MAN 2 might not come out until 2014 and GREY’S ANATOMY will lose in the ratings to BIG BREAK KAANAPALI on the Golf Channel.


Jeff Tompkins said...

Well, that would suck. Again. I remember talking to people before the strike in the fall who said they didn't see the big deal. Then, a few weeks into it, they started to miss their shows and complain about re-runs. Gee, I wonder why THAT's happening.

Charles Jurries said...

Not only are both sides not wanting to come to any sort of agreement sooner in the post 07-08 WHA strike era, they are being even MORE stubborn! The contract doesn't end for a while and it already looks like we'll have another strike.

Unless this is all God's plan to keep 24 off the air. Goodness knows that after season six, the show doesn't deserve any of our airtime.

Bianca said...

I think the writer's strike served to refine viewers' tastes in quality programming.

I know our family has little tolerance for crap tv now, however during the writers strike it became apparent to us just how much time we wasted watching tacky waste-o-time shows - like anything airing between 10am-4pm weekdays, or VH1 500 Favourite Childstars (Do I really need to know that Vicki from "Small Wonder" is now a nurse and experimental dancer in Boulder, Colorado?).

When all the good sitcoms and dramas (the decent, hearty meals) are taken away you realize how much other mind-numbing junky fast-food like programming there is. I actually used to watch infomercials when nothing else was on. We purchase DVD series sets and we got rid of our cable subscription and now solely watch tv online and ONLY watch the good stuff. In our family that means LOST, The Office, 30 Rock, and Survivor (more out of habit than interest anymore). Don't care about American Idol since I can just read Ken's recaps and save myself hours per week.

I am ashamed to admit my trashy guilty pleasure is watching idiot women humiliating themselves fawning all over some fop on The Bachelor. Maybe my tastes weren't so refined after all... Maybe an actors strike would cure me.

Jason said...

There's a new season of Heroes?

Huh. Oh well. Back to GTA IV. (The virtual TV in the game actually has some pretty funny material. But the writing in that series has always been exceptional. The talk radio bits especially. You can spend a lot of time just cruising around the city listening.)

Unknown said...

just thinking about the crap between SAG and AFTRA bc of the (hopefully not) impending strike turns my stomach. what a mess.

Anonymous said...

At least the strike got the comedies back on top.... I mean you don't have to remember all the stupid stuff that happened on Grey's Anatomy... you can just laugh at Liz Lemon and Michael Scott.

The way TV should be...

Anonymous said...

Nick Counter is a lying, waste of a human life. He screwed up the writers negotiations and guess what? His daughter is a writer. Of course, that didn't matter to him as I'm told he's pretty much been "dad of the year" and hasn't even seen her in 15 years. That's the kind of sub-human beings the AMPTP employs to make it's "fair deals". I'd say that there is a special place in Hell reserved for Nick Counter, but you know what? There's NO special place anywhere reserved for guys like Nick Counter. They just leech off the creative work of others. Enjoy your leeching, Nick... word is that the AMPTP is going to dump you as soon as this last negotiation is over. Plenty of time to not see your daughter then, huh?

Anonymous said...

But Earl says, the Advertisers are just fucking their horses. We've got time. There's a great documentary on i, you should chekcit out. Oops.

And Earl says, we are a new democratic, cough, demographic. (I do love graphics). But I rarely do surf. Hmmm.

I see the problem, I'm kidding. But not as funny as you (I so swear!) Not as funny as you 'til you die, though.

Hey, I've written a poem just for you.

Anonymous said...

And yet, they keep trotting out even more new reality crapola. Is it that their development efforts had little but that during the strike, and they figured, “Well, we spent a lot developing this stuff during the strike, so we might as well not have that just turn into money down the drain?”

Or that some of these may have originated as network ideas to fight the strike, and since they were “network” inspirations rather than having been brought to them, they assume the shows would have to be boffo.

Another measure of how low the medium has sunk. Remember when those half-hour paid programs were something you saw only on UHF in the early morning hours? At least here, they now fill the morning hours after about 12:30am. on pretty much all of the VHF – including the O and Os. And metastasized into Sunday afternoons.

I realize overnight time never necessarily went for much (as a goof, once investigated a total buy of one 30-sec. overnight local spot to sell one used car), but c’mon.

The one question I have is, don’t the same massive vertically integrated conglomerates who own the networks pretty much own the cable channels as well. So if viewers get driven to cable it’s fine with them – just a different profit center? And that they’re only hurt when the cable and home video content also drives down viewership? Hey, what do I know?

Anonymous said...

One of the big advantages to reality TV is that those shows tend to be broadcast straight through with very little interruption. It's irritating to get into a show like Heroes and Battlestar Galactica, only to have it start, then stop, then start, then stop. Sitcoms are easier to take in that regard since they generally aren't linear.

Alicia said...

Sweet! Just what a TV whore like myself needs.

We DVR all the shows we watch durring the week and catch up on the weekends. And that list is SHORT... we don't watch nearly as much TV as we did before the strike.

There are only three shows I catch live, How I Met Your Mother (as liner as a sitcom can be), House and Grey's. (HEY! I am a Broad after all!)

I think that this is just a horrible situation. Hopefully (although I understand that this is doubtful) the networks learned their lesson. I want my movies!

Tom Quigley said...

As long as the networks think they're in the driver's seat, they could be negotiating with God and the Union of Organized Heavenly Angels Local No. 2346 and they're not going to change their tactics. What they need to do is wake up and realize that the people who are actually in control are the viewers who have to choose from among the crap they're offering us to watch these days -- and can turn them off anytime we want.

Unknown said...

Hey Ken, Two and a Half Men and CSI switched authors this week.

No post on that? I just saw the morgue-assistant pull a rubber chicken out of Katey Segal's mouth.

No comment on that? Please comment on that :-)

Chris Conroy said...

Damn pilates!

michael said...

Last year NBC made a profit of 300 million while USA made a profit of 700 million. Both are owned by the same company. A company whose stockholders are crushed viewers are leaving the networks for cable.

Emily Blake said...

Is that just including broadcast? Because a lot of people only watch shows online these days. And a lot of people wait for the DVDs and watch them that way. So maybe viewing isn't down, but traditional viewing is.

Bitter Animator said...

I can see fewer people caring about this strike because it follows the writer's strike.

I know I'm already bored of it.

Annie said...

We need a comedy writer to ride in on his/her white horse/sitcom and show these reality boob-tubers what's what. Anybody know a good one?
Fact is, we're recession-bound. When the going gets tough, people stay home. And they want to laugh. They don't want reality. They want funny.
Quick, somebody get me funny.

Anonymous said...

How is Heroes in the shitter? It's not even on.

MrCarlson said...

On a Sad sitcom note, and perhaps a casualty of the strike, Back to You was just cancelled by FOX, while Till Death received a new season order. I have to say I'm really disappointed. Although the show was far from perfect, there were a series of moments that I considered very funny indeed. The reason I bring this up is, I noticed in recent episodes of that show, There was an effort to retool the concept of the show (introducing new actresses, and new actresses to portray the same character, and getting rid of some other actors) My question is, have you ever had to retool a show to attract bigger ratings (almost perfect for example), and is it very difficult eating that crow? Because, in the case of back to you, the changes weekened the show rather than helped, and Laura Marano was a far better actress than the other younguer kid they put there. Ayda Field was a so-so actress, but hey, she was nice to look at.