Hollywood writers go on strike
The production of scripted programming in Hollywood has come to a halt due to the Writers Guild of America's first strike in over 15 years. Network TV shows, including Young Sheldon, could be affected in the upcoming 2023/24 season depending on how long the strike lasts.
The Writers Guild of America spent the last six weeks negotiating with studios and streaming services under the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Their goal was to turn back the "gig economy" that unionized writers currently work under and secure a better deal.
The union's proposals aimed to establish minimum guarantees for the number of writers in each production's "writers' room" and the number of writers working on each episode, as well as increases in the weekly rate that writers are paid. The union was also seeking changes to the residual payments from streaming services, including higher rates from streaming platforms outside the U.S., linking residiuals with the number of streaming viewers, and improved residuals from ad-supported services. 97.85% of union members voted to support the strike.
The current sixth season of Young Sheldon, which concludes with an hour-long season finale on Thursday, May 18, will not be impacted by the strike. However, if the strike continues throughout the summer, it will cause a delay in the preparations for the seventh season of Young Sheldon, which is expected to premiere in September. This may result in a shorter season that starts at a later date, depending on when the strike is resolved.
Young Sheldon's parent show, The Big Bang Theory, was in its first season when the WGA went on strike in November 2007. The strike began after only eight episodes of The Big Bang Theory had aired and lasted until February 2008. After production restarted, the show returned to the airwaves in March and was able to produce another nine episodes during the season. As a result, The Big Bang Theory's first season had only 17 episodes, which is lower than the typical 23 or 24 episodes the show produced for the rest of its run. Co-creator of The Big Bang Theory, Bill Prady, has credited the strike with building the show's audience as CBS kept re-running those initial eight episodes during the prolonged strike.
The 2007 strike was motivated by some of the same issues as today's action. One key argument was ensuring that writers are fairly compensated for the online distribution of their shows, with streaming being a nascent industry back then. At that time, episodes of TV shows were more likely to be bought for download from iTunes or Amazon, although network websites had started to offer streaming of the latest episodes for a short period after their initial broadcast. Residuals from DVDs, which were then a particularly popular way of enjoying scripted content after its original broadcast, were another issue.