Analyst: Writers' Strike Could Send Ad Dollars to Digital

Prices for commercials in sports, news programming might rise

A potential strike in May by the Writers Guild of America against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers could send viewers and advertisers to digital platforms, analyst Kannan Venkateshwar of Barclays said in a note Wednesday.

Venkateshwar noted that the WGA strike in 2007 lasted about 14 weeks and a 1988 strike went for 21 weeks.

This year’s timing could key because it could come when shows for the new season would be produced and the upfront ad sales are being negotiated.

During the last strike, Netflix had just started streaming and the iPhone was new.

“Today, of course, the environment is quite different,” Venkateshwar said. “If networks are unable to air new seasons due to the strike, this could result in a much greater shift towards OTT platforms than would be the case otherwise. While Netflix and Amazon’s pipelines are also likely to be affected by the writers’ strike, their library of original content could realize much wider viewership in the absence of competition from legacy TV."