In a move that may potentially have a significant impact on scripted television shows, 90% of Writers Guild of America voters authorized a strike if they can’t come to an agreement on a new contract. The current contract expires Wednesday October 31, 2007. Should it occur, this would mark the first strike since a five month strike in 1988. Though this vote would allow the union to strike immediately after the contract expires, they may wait for some time after that while they continue negotiating.
A strike now would not have an immediate impact, but it would create a big problem come early next year when the new seasons begin. One genre that would not have trouble going forward would be reality TV, which is not unionized. In the event of a lengthy strike, we would see a lot more reality TV in the spring than we normally do. Beyond that, we could expect to see a lot more reruns than usual, and news and sports shows also would be able to continue without interruption.
Fox looks pretty good. Because of the completion time of animated series being far more in advance than most shows, its Sunday night lineup is safe. Its biggest show, American Idol, also debuts early next year, and they could easily fill 2-3 nights with that. Additionally, there are several other reality shows that make up Fox’s lineup currently that could easily be used to fill the gaps. Only having to run two hours of programming a night should make it a lot easier on them than CBS, ABC, and NBC as well.
The CW has returning shows in its lineup such as America’s Next Top Model, Beauty and the Geek, Pussycat Dolls, and WWE Smackdown and is preparing new reality shows in the event of a strike. On Sunday nights, The CW’s as good as dead currently, so that should be easy enough to fill.
NBC’s heavy dependence on Deal or No Deal may not be such a bad thing after all, and they’ve also got The Apprentice and The Biggest Loser looking to make returns. On the news magazine front, NBC has Dateline. Beyond that, NBC is looking abroad, considering airing the UK version of The Office.
CBS, with its 432 procedural dramas, would definitely be in for some hurt. However, reruns of shows like CSI do quite well. Survivor remains one of the biggest shows on TV, and The Amazing Race will be making its return. A strike could actually help revive those two shows to their former glory. 60 Minutes, already running 90 minutes long, could easily be stretched to 2 hours.
ABC has Extreme Makeover, Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, and 20/20. Of these, Dancing with the Stars will be the most useful, as it’s got the potential to fill in 2 hours a night for 2-3 nights and achieve top ratings doing so.