Effects of the StrikeComplications Ensue
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

This article, like many others, says advertisers are already worried about the effects of reruns on viewership."
“Everybody's in the same position. We all have stuff on the shelf we can use … the common assessment is that we're all good until January. But as of January, when new episodes of shows would have been expected, that's when schedules start to change a bit.”
I think people are underestimating the effect of the strike. TV is a not a warehouse. It is a pipeline. (It is, if you will, a series of tubes.)

Yes, you can shoot and edit and show all the episodes for which there are already scripts. And that takes you to January.

But what happens in January? Can you just get the writers to air new episodes? Um, no. Writers have to think up new episodes, write first drafts and second drafts, and then take them to production. Production needs to shoot them and editors need to shoot them.

You don't get any new episodes until February or March.

Think of the strike as a growing gap at the beginning of an assembly line. When the engine-makers put down their tools, you can keep making cars until the gap reaches the end of the line. And then you shut the line down. But when you start the line up again, you have to wait for the engines before you can make any new cars. And no one's making the engines any faster than they were.

With each day of the strike, that gap in the line is getting bigger.

The truth is, the strike is already having an effect on every struck show. The effect is delayed, but it is irrevocable. TV staffs work flat out. There's no slack to take up. It's not like a plane you can fly faster to account for a late take-off. If you lose a day, you're behind a day for the rest of the season. (Okay, you can go from an 8 day schedule to a 6 day schedule, and you can do a bottle show or a clip show, but then you're just writing and shooting substandard episodes.)

Think reruns will help? Not in the long run. TV schedules already plan for reruns. But while you only lose, say, 10% of the audience the first time you rerun an episode, how about the second time you rerun it? The 10% figure comes from the audience not knowing a rerun is coming up. What happens when the audience decides "that show is nothing but reruns all the time?" They just stop watching, period.

If I were a shareholder, I'd be pretty irritated at the networks for pretending not to understand this.

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