Here’s Why More Writers are Turning to TV than Film Writing

Short answer: TV writing employs more people and pays better. But you probably want specifics, so:

Once upon a time, the term "golden age" referred to quality. But in today's economy, who's got time to worry about that?

Once upon a time, the term “golden age” referred to quality. But in today’s economy, who’s got time to worry about that?

WGA West Annual Report Shows “Golden Age of TV” Continues for Writers
by Jonathan Handel

The WGA West’s latest annual report, released Tuesday, provides continued good news for television writers, along with a smidgen of hope for feature writers as well — but an analysis by The Hollywood Reporter of almost a quarter-century’s worth of WGAW data underscores just how completely the 1990s surge of independent cinema has transformed into a new golden age of television

From 1992 through 2006, aggregate TV and theatrical earnings for the WGAW’s members were roughly equal. That changed after the 2007-08 WGA strike, and THR’s review shows that the two industries have trod very different paths since then. Aggregate TV earnings have nearly doubled since the walkout, rising from $462.5 million in 2008 to a THR-estimated $859 million last year. Meanwhile, theatrical earnings, which spiked to $526.6 million in 2007 as studios stockpiled in advance of the strike and slumped to $375.1 the year after, trended slowly down for several years and have gradually increased since 2012 — but at $387.4 million (THR est.) last year, they have never fully recovered.

THR’s 2015 earnings and employment figures include an addition of 7 percent to the WGAW’s figures, as an estimate to account for adjustments that the guild is expected to make when they restate the 2015 figures next year, following the union’s historical practice in adjusting for late-arriving data.

Total covered earnings, at a reported $1.176 billion in 2015, were notionally down 0.9 percent, but it’s more likely that figures will show an increase of about 10 percent when late-arriving data is eventually factored in. As an apples-to-apples comparison, this year’s reported figure for 2015 is 12 percent higher than the 2014 figure reported last year.

The guild’s employment numbers show a similar pattern as the earnings figures, with TV employment surging almost 50 percent from 2008, when about 3,120 members reported TV earnings, to 2015, when an estimated 4,420 did, meaning that over half the guild’s approximately 8,000 members performed at least some TV work last year. Theatrical employment, which hit a high of over 2,040 members in 2007, fell to about 1,660 in 2012, before recovering some lost ground to end at about 1,920 in 2015.

The WGA West earnings figures exclude residuals, which are tabulated separately. But the picture is similar there, too: Residuals for reuse of TV product grew 50 percent from 2010 ($174 million) to 2015 ($262 million), but theatrical residuals actually declined about 3 percent ($142 million to $138 million) over the same period as viewers shifted their attention to TV offerings….

Read it all at The Hollywood Reporter