With the Hollywood writers strike in full swing, the big question is how it’ll affect TV and viewing as whole. For that we can turn to history. The last time writers walked off the set was in 1988. Nobody took it seriously, thinking (like previous protests) it would all be over in a few weeks. Actually, it lasted 6 months. And it was hell.
Network TV lost 9% of its audience, the Fall season was pushed back, and even after the writers were wooed back to work, 10% chose not to return. Scripts were in such high demand stations actually bid for it (very expensive). And, due to the slowdown of production, networks had to lay off other production crew — caterers, set designers, shipping services, and all the auxiliary services that make up the million-dollar industry. In those six months, Los Angeles’ economy lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Clearly, there’s more at stake than whether or not we get a new episode of Leno.