The Future. The TV ecosystem is crumbling under the weight of unsustainable forces: overworked, underpaid writers and a lack of profits for companies in the streaming era. The writers strike and potential actors strike have put a spotlight on these issues. When the dust settles, expect TV to potentially look very different — smaller, more cost-conscious, and from fewer outlets.
Supply and too much demand
Per Variety, TV writers are tired of carrying the streaming gold rush on their backs… and the streamers aren’t even seeing the gold they expected.
- TV writers are forced to piece together several mini-room jobs a year to make a living and rarely go to set to produce episodes (a key learning opportunity).
- Creators now routinely shoulder an unprecedented amount of free development to sell projects, putting more risk on the writers if the project falls apart.
- Meanwhile, studios and streamers are billions in debt after spending wildly to compete in the streaming era — making 599 shows last year (only 288 were made in 2012).
- That’s led companies to pull back spending and make fewer projects, which shrinks the number of jobs and potentially irks viewers who are accustomed to more viewing options.
J.D. Connor, associate professor of cinematic arts at USC, believes when the “hot labor summer of 2023” is over, several smaller companies may have no choice but to merge or sell in order to survive the brave new world.
For TV writers, the conditions may be much better, but there may be far fewer slots to fill.