The explosion of TV streaming services means Hollywood writers are being paid less and less. Now they are on strike. What are they asking for and how could it affect what you watch?
The writers of some of the biggest shows on TV are on strike because an explosion of streaming content has forced down their wages.
The Writers Guild of America represents more than eleven thousand film and TV writers in the United States.
At one minute past midnight on Tuesday 2nd May all of its members went on strike for the first time in 15 years.
It was announced after talks failed between the WGA and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Sal Gentile is a writer and producer for NBC’s ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’. He says “they’ve eroded a lot of the protections that used to exist for writers before the streaming era.”
“Writing rooms are a lot smaller, and the duration of those writing rooms are a lot shorter. There’s a lot of work that is not rewarded in the same way that it was before the streaming era. But the writers are still doing that work.”
Before streaming took over, writers were able to make a fairly steady income from what are known as residuals – payments they received whenever content was repeated.
Screenwriter Kyra Jones wrote on Twitter: “My first residual check for the broadcast show I wrote on was $12,000. I just got my first residual check for my streaming show… $4”
According to the WGA the median writer salary has fallen by 4%. Adjusted for inflation, that number goes up to 23%.
Meanwhile, unions calculate that eight of the major Hollywood studio bosses made a total of over 773 million dollars last year.
Late-night talk shows have already stopped as a result of the strike and shows which are currently in production, like season two of Amazon’s House of the Dragon, could be delayed.
The last writers strike in 2007 lasted 100 days and cost California’s economy 2 billion dollars, so the pressure is on to break the stalemate.
But with actors and directors also negotiating over pay, things could get worse before they get better.