After six weeks of negotiations, the Writers Guild of America has voted unanimously to declare a strike effective as of May 2, 2023.
Following the unanimous recommendation of the WGA Negotiating Committee, the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01am, Tuesday, May 2. The negotiations were conducted with companies such as Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros. Discovery under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
The two sides couldn’t come to terms with many factors in the negotiations, but the main ones are the rapidly changing distribution landscape, lengths of TV seasons, and the new accounting around royalties. With the streaming services keeping their viewership numbers secretive, writers are in the dark as to how their productions are actually performing.
Impacts of the strike will be felt as soon as Tuesday night as The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will immediately go into repeat. Daytime television would be impacted next, followed up by Saturday Night Live on May 6. If the strike stretched into May and June, then the fall premieres of network TV series would be impacted, as that is typically when the writers’ rooms assemble to begin breaking the season.
The last strike similar to this happened in 2007 and lasted 14 weeks. It led to a massive explosion of reality TV productions, but the consensus is that it won’t happen now. The significant differences are that every outlet already has large stables of reality programming. There is also a growing acceptance of foreign productions, such as series from South Korea and Japan.
Movies will also be impacted, but thanks to the length of productions, it won’t be noticeable quite as quickly to general audiences.
With negotiations on the horizon for both SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild, Hollywood could be in for a very long summer.