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New Agreement on Strike Brings Out Web Video Particulars

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Possibly nearing a conclusion of the ongoing writers’ strike, the Writers Guild of America has released the terms (PDF) of a proposed agreement for the review of its members. A particularly contentious topic, according to United Hollywood, is the proposed window before residuals kick in: 17 days, or 24 days in certain cases such as the first season of a series.

This is a key point in the negotiations that was at least partially resolved last weekend. Under the proposal, writers will receive a fixed fee for the first two years after the contract is signed and 2 percent of gross in the third year. The fee is $654 for a hour program and $360 for a half-hour program in the first year, and $654 for an hour program and $373 for a half-hour program in the second year. (You might have seen people quoting $1,200 as the two-year payment, which comes from summing up the hour-long figures.)

Also, we have our answer on how much a webisode should cost, that is if you want the WGA contract to cover it. The proposed contract says content made for new media should cost at least $15,000 per minute, $300,000 per program, or $500,000 per series order to be covered.

Chris had found in a survey of web shows that “A good starting point to create a web series, according to a number of producers we asked, is about $1,000 dollar per finished minute.” This is more in line with quarterlife (the program has never officially confirmed its cost, but creator Marshall Herskovitz told us in a recent interview it is “very expensive”) or Sanctuary (which cost $4 million for 135 minutes). Prom Queen, which cost $3,000 per 90 second episode, wouldn’t qualify by that standard.

comScore on Friday for the first time definitively attributed an increase in online video viewers to the strike, using December figures. Americans watched more than 10 billion online videos in December, up 7 percent from 9.5 billion in November, which was the first month of the strike.

“December represented a considerably strong month for online video viewing,” said Erin Hunter, comScore executive vice president of media and entertainment. “With the writer’s strike keeping new TV episodes from reaching the airwaves, viewers have been seeking alternatives for fresh content. It appears that online video is stepping in to help fill that void.”

11 Responses to “New Agreement on Strike Brings Out Web Video Particulars”

  1. Liz, When I say that ABC is down 5% in that post I linked to, I meant that as of Feb 3 season to date they had dropped an additional 5% from their y/y pre-strike level in Oct/Nov which was down about 2-3%.

    The reason we initiated those charts was all the talk about “the strike has really hammered ratings this year”, when in fact, ratings had already been hammered for most of the networks before the strike had any effect at all.

  2. Hey Bill G,

    In the piece you link to you say ABC is down 5% “showing definite strike damage” – can you explain how that lines up with your comments here?

    I do think there is a good chance comScore is saying what people want to hear. When I get a chance I’ll look at the relative increase in web video numbers, but that may not be so simple because those numbers are incomplete and only started being released last year.


  3. The problem with ComScore’s reasoning on the online video viewing increase being attributable to the strike is that this December wasn’t really programmed any differently than previous Decembers. Sure, there were more reruns in December than there were in November, but there always are more reruns in December.

    If you look at our chart of year/year viewership except for Fox [which got an early boost because of baseball] there was no decrease in broadcast TV viewership because of the strike.

    Since broadcast TV programming hadn’t changed and the viewership hadn’t changed, the idea that the web video increase was due to the strike is silly.