There’s been a lot of talk about how, between attention-getting protests and brilliant strike videos, the writers have been winning the PR war against the studios. I’m sure that it’s true; I’m not so sure how much it matters. Mind you, as a writer, I want it to matter: I want to believe that creativity and a powerful, well-expressed argument can win a battle. Practically, speaking, though, I’m not sure that–if the studios believe that screwing the writers out of Internet money is worth enough to them financially–it will make a difference. Businessmen would rather be paid than liked. (Though we are talking Hollywood, where moguls want to believe they can be both.)
Negative public opinion may or may not scare the studios, but I’m pretty sure that stories like this one in Ad Age will. According to the trade publication, if the strike stretches into the new year, advertisers (who buy much of their ad time before the season at the upfront sales) may be ticked off at finding that they paid for The Office and instead are getting Celebrity Apprentice. And they may not be satisfied with the usual freebie “make-good” ads as compensation: says Ad Age, “They could ask for their money back.”
Call me a cynic, but I think that prospect may have even more pull in a corner office than a really good YouTube video. For as Ad Age notes, “Other media stand at the ready to take ad dollars that could be switched from TV to other venues.” I take PayPal and major credit cards.