Pencils Down.

For two months now the Writers Guild of America has been on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Have you noticed, yet?

Most of the television drama is produced months before it’s aired, so no significant changes in drama.

“Reality” programming such as Survivor, American Idol, American’s Next Top Model, or Celebrity Apprentice doesn’t use written scripts (so they say), which means no problem there.

It appears that the only programs showing any immediate effect of the writer’s strike are the daily comedy shows – such as those hosted by Jay Leno, David Letterman, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, and Craig Ferguson.

The writers seem determined to continue their strike.

The networks are rumored to already be considering programs produced in other countries. (BBC anyone?).

The producers are betting that Americans don’t care enough about quality to affect their viewing habits. If they’re right, the nation will watch whatever is put before them. If they’re wrong, there are always writers in other countries. (Did we mention the BBC?)

The writers are betting the opposite – that people will angrily demand better programming.

They’re both wrong.

While the writers and producers play chicken with the prime time lineup, they’re all missing a major point.

Today’s younger audience considers TV to be just another option on a much bigger menu. These viewers are much less likely than their parents to watch programs which are only marginally interesting to them.

If viewers don’t care for Letterman, Stewart, or Colbert (who have all returned to the air without writers), then YouTube or World of Warcraft are only a mouse click away.

And, as advertisers, we should always be thinking about advertising where the viewers are.


Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who works with professional practices and owner operated businesses. Questions about the the future of television advertising may be directed to [email protected].