• Tue. May 30th, 2023

Survey: Writers Have More Leverage Than Studios in WGA Talks

Mar 23, 2023

Entertainment-industry pros believe the writers have more leverage than the studios as they begin negotiations over a new contract, according to an exclusive new survey.

One-third of respondents gave TV scribes a vote of confidence, as opposed to one-fifth who touted the studios’ clout in an online poll of 640 U.S. adults working in showbiz conducted on March 15-16 by insights firm YouGov. The survey was commissioned by Variety Intelligence Platform, which recently released the special report “Time to Strike?” 

What may explain the perception of the writers’ leverage is a sense that there’s newfound solidarity among members of the WGA, in the past a notoriously fractious group believed this time to be united around key issues, from its top showrunners to its newbie scribes.

In contrast, industry observers noted there was less cohesion during a previous round of negotiations back in the pandemic period. Meanwhile, the studios are on wobblier financial ground due to the honeymoon phase of the streaming era being over, though the WGA isn’t likely to be sympathetic to eroding profits.  

Talks kicked off March 20 between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in the lead-up to the current contract between the two sides expiring on May 1. Ramifications will be discussed in a VIP+ webinar taking place on LinkedIn on March 28 and featuring Variety co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton and senior media reporter Gene Maddaus. (Sign into LinkedIn, and register now — it’s free! bit.ly/42o8CEZ)

While there’s considerable anticipation the industry could see its first scripted TV strike since 2008, there is a great deal of uncertainty around whether a strike will actually take place, with over half of respondents unsure. Among those who had an opinion, 3 in 10 said a strike would happen, with 2 in 10 saying no. 

Should a strike occur, only a very small minority — 1 in 25 — think it will last less than a week. One-third believe it would last between one and three months. The 2008 strike lasted 100 days and cost the Los Angeles economy anywhere from $2 billion to $3 billion, according to varying estimates.  

The most common response to whether a strike was in the WGA’s best interests was yes, with two out of five saying so. More than a third of responses were unsure, a sentiment that could begin to shift as negotiations unfold. 

It’s the opposite sentiment regarding whether a strike would be in the best interest of the AMPTP, with one-fifth agreeing and two-fifths saying no. 

Get key insights and data on the WGA-AMPTP issues … 

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