After failing to reach a contract agreement, Hollywood film and TV writers are on strike for the first time in 15 years. The Writers Guild of America members, who begin picketing on Tuesday, seek higher pay and security in response to rapid changes brought on by the streaming era.
Not every type of show will be impacted the same without a writers’ room; late-night talk shows will be the first to go dark, with scripted network TV series following in the months after. The streaming companies claim to have a significant backlog of content – and generally operate on longer lead times – but if the strike wears on for 100 days like the 2007-2008 writers strike, those too will certainly be impacted by delays.
How will late-night fans be impacted?
CivicScience gauged American preference for a number of types of television as the strike began to see how viewership might be affected. Although a majority of U.S. adults (60%) claim to ‘never’ watch late-night talk shows, 18% watch them at least weekly (and 9% watch them on a daily basis). Given the immediacy of a late-night writers’ room, these shows will cease broadcasting this week.
Despite their heightened likelihood to cord-cut, Gen Z adults are the most likely to watch late-night TV shows in any capacity (52%) or on at least a weekly basis (23%). Adults 55+ are tied with Gen Z adults as the most likely age group to watch late-night on a daily basis (10%).
Streamers who subscribe to a live TV service like Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV are the most likely of any adults to watch at least some degree of late-night TV (54%), and 21% watch at least weekly. But those who primarily stream syndicated TV series and movies are the most likely to watch late-night at least weekly (25%).
Scripted programming is still preferred.
Reality television was already well-established by the time of the ‘07-08 writers strike, but it became essentially the only new item on the menu for viewers during those three months. According to the latest CivicScience data, U.S. adults generally prefer scripted TV series to unscripted series by 2-to-1 (41% versus 19%). Although a solid majority (59%) either prefer unscripted shows or have no preference between the two.
Scripted shows especially perform well with streamers who mostly watch original content from services like Netflix or HBO (55%), while unscripted content performs the best with U.S. adults who stream live TV on a service like Sling TV. But no matter the type of viewer, scripted shows maintain at least a slight edge over unscripted shows.
Those who prefer scripted television are more likely to support labor unions than the Gen Pop (57% compared to 50%), and unscripted fans come in beneath the Gen Pop’s level of union support (46%). Generally speaking, the average scripted fan – who’s likely to be most impacted by the writers strike in terms of personal viewing habits – might also be the most likely to support the WGA digging in for a protracted strike.
Want to know how your consumers will respond to the latest developments in media and streaming news? Work with us.