Hollywood WGA Strike: Dark Cloud Over Streaming or Studio Silver Lining?
Screenwriters are emboldened after authorizing a May 1 strike. But, some think this is exactly what big media barons are waiting for to control costs in the streaming arms race.
Hollywood screenwriters who bang out streaming hits to television sets and big screens globally may have just played into the hands of studio moguls desperate for ways to organically de-escalate the content spending wars.
The Writers Guild of America, which represents some 11,500 scribes, on Monday authorized a strike if negotiators can’t come to terms with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Talks resumed this week, and the WGA now has another bargaining chip if an accord cannot be reached by the May 1 deadline.
It may also have unexpectedly thrown Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discover’s David Zaslav, and Paramount chief Bob Bakish the financial lifeline they’re craving just ahead of reporting quarterly earnings this month. This may be a way for studio chiefs to cut back the estimated $26.5 billion in streaming content spend expected this year, according to research from Ampere Analysis.
“If you are a standalone Hollywood production studio (or talent agency), a writers’ strike is problematic as you will not be able to continue producing beyond the scripts that have been stockpile,” said Richard Greenfield of Lightshed Partners in a research report dispatched on Monday.
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“It is worth noting that Hollywood studios have been keenly aware of the strike risk over the past year and they are well prepared to weather a multi-month strike,” according to Lightshed. “That said, no edits can be made to scripts in the middle of production once writers go on strike, and there is far greater risk to production quality if you shoot something without the ability to adjust the writing.”