Hollywood’s Deal With Writers Could Mean Fewer Shows to Write

After five months, the writers strike finally came to an end, but the new pact may mean fewer new shows, meaning fewer jobs.

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

After five months, the Writers Guild of America strike finally came to an end, with studios guaranteeing wage hikes, improved residuals, and minimum staff requirements.

But the new pact may contain a plot twist: fewer new shows, meaning fewer jobs to go around, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Spend, Spend, Spend

South Park once joked that Netflix answered the phone with “You’re green-lit,” and it wasn’t far from the truth as the service spent roughly $17 billion on content last year. What did they get for all that? For every Stranger Things, there are 10 more Pretty Smarts and Real Robs — shows that didn’t get a ton of attention but filled out the catalog so Netflix could say “Look how much stuff we got.” Disney+ recently shelled out $212 million for the Secret Invasion miniseries — that’s more than a lot of its theatrical releases cost to make. Amazon owns the most expensive streaming show ever after dropping a whopping $465 million on the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, a series that achieved just a 37% completion rate among viewers.

The new writers union contract, plus whatever deal the Screen Actors Guild eventually secures, might have Hollywood on the road toward a much more frugal era, where studios and streamers are less inclined to just pump out new stuff:

  • Kevin Reilly, a longtime media executive, told the WSJ that flagrant spending is going to become a thing of the past. “Everyone will get a better piece of what they’ve created. But if anyone is thinking, ‘Let the good times roll! ’— that won’t happen.”
  • Another veteran TV producer told the news outlet that the number of scripted shows Hollywood produces could fall by a third in the next three years. Writers and actors may win a big piece of the pie, but the pie might be shrinking.

Quality over quantity: Despite a possible dip in job opportunities, writers prefer the future to a past that had many barely paying the rent. “There is no, ‘You’ll cut off your nose to spite your face,’” TV writer and producer Mike Royce told the WSJ. “Our faces had already been eaten. The world we were in, we had lost so much.” Maybe less drek means better viewing – we’re all market optimists here!