Friday, February 15, 2008

L.A. Story

I have been in on a business trip for the last four days. My husband said, hey you haven't been posting to your blog, you're going to lose your readership--all five people. Ha, ha.

I've was in the land of TV, good ol' Los Angeles. You know you're in L.A. when the local radio is advertising plastic surgeons like 1-800-Dr. New Me and the billboards are feature rehab clinics like

But in terms of TV, what struck me was the local news. There were two big stories: the house that split in half in Encino and the end to the writers strike. New episodes are finally on the horizon. The Oscars will not be picketed. But for L.A., this strike wasn't just an entertainment story--over the last three months, the local economy lost $3 billion. And it's likely some of the weaker shows will be canceled, meaning some workers will be out of work altogether. So the town seems to be breathing a collective sigh of relief when the contract was ratified on Tuesday.

Los Angeles will recover (according to the L.A. Times, L.A. generates $1.3 billion a day, so $3 billion is relatively small). And the writers will find new jobs. But despite the setbacks, the terms the writers fought for are going to make a real impact going forward. It's not a perfect contract, but at least the writers get something for online streaming episodes rather than the goose egg they got before (for details, see this article from the Economist).

I'm not sure what the networks were objecting to when they initially denied that the writers should get even one cent of online distribution profits. Maybe I'm missing something, but eyeballs are eyeballs. If writers are getting residuals for TV broadcast, it seems artificial to say they'll get nothing for online distribution-- all the new streaming sites feature advertising that, to me, are more effective than traditional broadcast --they are limited, so users are willing to sit through them instead of wandering off, and unlike TV viewed with TiVo or other DVRs, users can't fast forward through them.

Heck, because of the limited number of advertisers on Hulu and the fact that Hulu only allows one advertiser per show, I can even remember most of the commercials I've seen on while watching NBC and Fox programming on Hulu-- Esurance, Nissan, Royal Caribbean--which is more than I can say for commercials I see on TV.

I'm glad the writer's strike is over, but I am also happy it started. Not only did it help the writers, but the lack of TV shows helped me to quit TV as well, which is something I've wanted to do for a while. As I've said, I'll pretty much only be watching shows online when I'm at home, and I feel better that writers will be compensated for that.

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