Forecasting the Strike Impact: By The Numbers

Categories: TV Business,WGA Strike

Written By

November 6th, 2007

Fox Best Positioned to Ride Strike Through End of Season

crystalball.jpegWe've read a lot about the potential impact of the writers strike on the broadcast networks, but wanted to try and quantify exactly which networks primetime schedules seemed to be in the best position for an extended strike, one that stops scripted shows after their existing episodes run out in early 2008. Read on.

[For those of you who want to really dive down into the details, take a look at our detailed network by network, show by show breakdown of the strikes effects.]

We've tried to do our best to calculate in terms of viewers which networks are positioned to do relatively better than others.

There are many things we cannot factor in, chief among them the fact that all networks have brand new replacement shows ready, but we have no way of quantifying the likely viewership of those new shows [we try with returning shows]. Our projections forward rely very much on the recent past, either this fall or the previous season.

We began with a number of assumptions:

  1. Existing scripted shows would run new episodes through November, reruns in December and then new shows in early 2008 until resorting to either reruns or hiatus. UPDATE: There may be fewer new episodes stockpiled than I had understood, if you believe the second commenter here.
  2. Reality and news shows, with a few exceptions, would not be interrupted.
  3. We did not attempt to quantify any winter or spring sports primetime sports. The NFL playoffs, Super Bowl, NCAA Basketball tournament would be unaffected and make major viewership contributions.
  4. For shows returning in 2008 we assumed their viewership would be similar to either their fall 2007 average viewership or their season to date spring 2007 average viewership whichever is more recent.
  5. Animated series have their entire 2007-2008 season completed now and can run to the end of the season normally.

We divided shows into 4 categories:

  1. Shows ending as scheduled in 2007.
  2. Shows going into either reruns or hiatus in early 2008.
  3. Shows unaffected by the strike, either continuing from 2007 or starting in 2008.
  4. Shows in an unknown status, primarily shows scheduled to, or rumored to, be beginning in 2008.

My guess is that we'll be revising this post as we learn more. Feel free to comment or email with more information. We're far from all knowledgeable, and are ready to listen.

Broadcast Network Landscape in Early 2008

Network Shows ending in 2007 as scheduled Shows in reruns in 2008 Shows not affected by strike, 2007 & 2008 New 2008 Shows with Unknown status
  (million 18-49 viewers) (million 18-49 viewers) (million 18-49 viewers) (million 18-49 viewers)
Fox   25.86 85.06 11.16
ABC 4.07 76.54 33.48 11.47
NBC 21.42 65.47 21.86 12.31
CBS 11.49 87.02 12.76 8.9
CW   15.04 8.66 1.73

Fox is in by far the strongest position, with the majority of its Fall viewership consisting of reality and animated series, and having the powerhouse American Idol ready to unleash on the strike-weakened competition after the Super Bowl.

ABC may have the most to lose from a strike long-term with many new relatively successful series that may halt before getting a loyal audience. However, in the short term, ABC looks to be in the second best position because of Dancing with the Stars and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

NBC can count on Deal or No Deal, The Biggest Loser and 1 vs. 100, with potential from new shows.

CBS looks to have the potential farthest to fall with relatively little that will escape the strikes impact besides 48 hours and Crimetime. They will be counting more on their incoming reality shows than any other broadcast network.

CW, in contrast, has not far to fall to hit bottom, but should be cushioned by America's Top Model, Beauty and the Geek and Friday Night Smackdown.

Although we didn't include them in our analysis, Telemundo looks to be completely in the clear.

For those of you who want to really dive down into the details, take a look at our detailed network by network, show by show breakdown of the strikes effects.

 
  • e.r. rata

    ERRATA:

    Univision is number 4, not Telemundo.

    Also, did you analyze MyNetworkTV and the impact of the strike on their numbers? They should be OK given all reality-movie line-up.

  • e.r. rata

    ERRATA:

    Univision is number 4, not Telemundo.

    Also, did you analyze MyNetworkTV and the impact of the strike on their numbers? They should be OK given all reality-movie line-up.

  • Bill Gorman

    D'oh! Thanks for catching my Telemundo/Univison error, will correct.

    And yes, I believe that MyNetworkTV is entirely in the clear on the strike. We don't typically report their numbers but, since you asked, for comparison their Season to Date (11/4) average Live+SD viewership is 860,000. For reference, that compares to CW at 2.92 million, Univision at 3.39 million, and Telemundo at 960,000. You can see the other STD numbers here.

  • Bill Gorman

    D’oh! Thanks for catching my Telemundo/Univison error, will correct.

    And yes, I believe that MyNetworkTV is entirely in the clear on the strike. We don’t typically report their numbers but, since you asked, for comparison their Season to Date (11/4) average Live+SD viewership is 860,000. For reference, that compares to CW at 2.92 million, Univision at 3.39 million, and Telemundo at 960,000. You can see the other STD numbers here.

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