American TV networks have lost almost a quarter of their audiences because of the Hollywood writers' strike, according to new figures, and executives fear that “orphaned” viewers may never return.
The Hollywood stoppage is costing the Los Angeles economy an estimated $20 million (£11 million) a day. Thousands are out of work. Small businesses, such as the props suppliers along Hollywood Boulevard, are struggling to stay afloat. The organisers of the Golden Globes lost $6 million in one night when their event was turned into a press conference because actors refused to cross writers' picket lines to attend the awards.
Writers as well as studios are worried that lost viewers may never return to TV, instead finding new ways to entertainment themselves, such as YouTube, Facebook or video games. The most recent figures show that YouTube has had an 18 per cent surge in traffic, while visitor numbers to other websites, such as Crackle, have seen doubled, albeit from small bases.
So far, the writers have had the support of the Screen Actors Guild, which will face the same issues when its contract runs out in June.
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