Advertising Around the Writers’ Strike: Reach Your Target Audience Through ‘Strike-Proof Programming’

08.24.2023 Sara Brasfield3 min

You’ve probably heard about the ongoing strikes taking place in Hollywood, where both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) have each elected to strike against the production companies in the film and TV industry—essentially grinding the industry to a halt.

What might be less obvious is how this work stoppage could affect your small business. If you’re invested in cable TV and digital video advertising, though, a monthslong strike could actually require you to switch up your strategy as you plan out media buys for the fall, winter and beyond.

It’s impossible to predict the future and how long these strikes might persist. But even if certain scripted TV content isn’t being released in the coming months, businesses can still drive value from cable TV and streaming ad campaigns by embracing a media buy strategy focused on ‘strike-proof programming.’

Here’s what your business needs to know about the current strike—and how you protect your digital ad strategy by planning ahead.

How Could the Writers’ and Actors’ Strikes Affect TV Programming?

As the end of August draws near, both guilds and the studios seem far apart on a potential agreement that would bring everyone back to work. Until these strikes are ended by new contractual agreements, no new TV or film content will be produced for broadcast or cable TV, as well as any streaming services.

This means that many primetime series and scripted events will be put on hold indefinitely. While shows and movies that were already filmed may still be released, any new work is prohibited in the strike. Popular shows like “Severance,” Abbott Elementary” and “Saturday Night Live” will cease production until the strikes end. The same for planned movie releases in both theaters and on streaming services.

For businesses that plan media buys around this programming, the absence of these shows and movies will dramatically alter the value of those media buys. Even if shows like “Saturday Night Live” air reruns in these time slots, the audience will likely be far smaller, which will affect the return driven by these ad campaigns. Instead of investing into these programming windows, businesses should consider targeting alternative media buys offering more reliable value regardless of the status of the strike.

Are Streaming Services or Cable TV Affected More by the Strike?

Both streaming platforms and cable TV are heavily reliant on the original, scripted programming put on hold by the strike, but the overall impact and risk of the strike varies from one platform to the next.

For streaming services working aggressively to acquire and keep releasing original scripted programming, the strike significantly curbs their ability to release new content—especially since streamers have far more limited access to alternative programming, such as live sports. Those streamers could get creative by promoting content from their library to hide the fact that new shows and movies aren’t getting released, but it’s inevitable that audiences will get progressively more frustrated the longer new content isn’t released on these platforms.

On cable TV, the impact can be highly dependent on the individual network. The cable channels owned by A&E, for example, are almost entirely supported by unscripted TV. As a result, their programming will be largely unaffected by the strike—and this stability could make these channels an attractive destination for advertisers.

How Can My Business Invest in ‘Strike-Proof’ TV Advertising?

Scripted shows may be on an indefinite pause, but there are plenty of alternative ad opportunities that aren’t affected by the ongoing strikes. In fact, a majority of cable shows and other programming on Cox Media’s ad-insertable networks are unscripted, which means they won’t be disrupted by the WGA or SAG strikes.

A strike-proof ad strategy should explore opportunities to advertise around programming that isn’t influenced by the strike. This strike-proof programming typically falls into one of the following three categories.

Sports Programming

Live sports won’t be affected in any way by the ongoing strikes. Fortunately, we’re about to head into a jam-packed sports schedule lasting all the way until next summer. College football is set to kick off in August, and the NFL regular season will begin in September. October will see the Major League Baseball playoffs as well as the start of the NBA and NHL regular seasons.

Since the majority of this content will be aired on cable TV, local businesses can take advantage of Cox Media’s ad-insertion opportunities to deliver ads to a targeted, engaged sports audience.

Reality TV and Unscripted Shows

Game shows, competitions, lifestyle programming and reality TV are all unscripted programs that are continuing to produce and air new episodes. Fan favorites like “Property Brothers,” “90 Day Fiancé,” and “Top Chef” are all available to use in your strike-proof advertising strategy.

Holiday Programming

Whether you’re looking at seasonal programming or the epic holiday movie season taking place on cable networks from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s, a lot of this year’s upcoming holiday programming—including new Christmas and winter holiday movies—have already been produced and are ready for their premiere later this year.

New scripted programming will be a rare event at this time of year, particularly if the strike is still ongoing. This could lead to high viewership and great value for TV ad campaigns.

No matter how the WGA and SAG strikes progress over the coming months, a strike-proof ad strategy will allow your business to keep building its brand, connecting with customers and driving ROI from its TV ad campaigns.

Ready to adjust your TV ad strategy? Contact Cox Media today.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

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