WGA Strike Slashes TV Ad Revenue: Primetime Programming and Scripted Shows Bear the Brunt
Broadcast television networks have been dealt a significant blow as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike cuts a deep swath through the industry’s revenues, heavily impacting TV programming. Primetime TV programming, talk shows, soap operas, and sitcoms, which are cornerstones of traditional television entertainment and sizable slices of the $26 billion TV ad revenue, are showing significant dips in revenues.
In the wake of the WGA strike, the reverberations are being keenly felt in the revenues of scripted TV shows. Generally accounting for 9% of the total TV ad market, talk shows, soap operas, and sitcoms, have witnessed a slump of 5% in revenues when comparing H1 2023 to H1 2022. The full impact of this, however, is yet to be realized, given that ad slots are typically purchased in advance.
Primetime TV, a time slot that traditionally draws higher viewer numbers and thus, higher ad revenues, has incurred a steep 15% revenue drop this year. In addition to this, TV talk shows have seen a 1% decrease in ad spends. This nosedive in revenue poses a significant risk to late-night talk shows, fall programming, and prime-time sitcoms.
Ironically, prior to the WGA strike, scripted shows such as soaps and sitcoms were enjoying a period of robust growth. Soap operas had seen an unprecedented YoY growth of 17%, while sitcoms also picked up in their stride with a respectable increase of 16%. Sadly, the rollercoaster ride now seems to be on a downward turn, thanks to the strike.
The auspices of digital channels also factor into this study. It should be noted here that digital ad spend constitutes a substantial three-quarters of the overall ad spend. And connected TV (CTV) holds a distinguished place among the digital channels, clinching 10% of the digital ad share, a figure that is only predicted to rise.
With scripted television on a hiatus owing to the WGA strike, streaming services are being seen as the new beacon of hope. They have come to the rescue, filling the gaps in programming with reruns of old episodes and fan favorites. However, the strike hasn’t spared new digital series that required regular viewing schedules, leaving them in an unenviable limbo.
As the WGA strike continues unabated, the ramification of this action on TV ad revenue is predicted to rise, especially with the fall season on the horizon. The belt-tightening is poised to continue well into the foreseeable future.
In conclusion, the knock-on effects of the WGA strike on TV ad revenue is becoming increasingly poignant. With significant disruptions in revenue streams already making themselves felt, and talks suggesting further losses looming on the horizon, the industry is bracing itself for challenging times ahead.
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