National Survey of Americans about WGA Strike Reveals Change in Viewing Habits and Support of Writers

According to a new survey conducted by Interpret LLC:

The vast majority of Americans know about the writers' strike, and approximately one third of the population has already changed their media habits as a direct result. The national survey also documents that the upcoming Oscars may be impacted, as many Americans would think poorly if their favorite stars attended the ceremony during the strike.

Interpret's research shows that network TV has already suffered from the WGA strike, but studios could continue to make money through DVD movies and TV on DVD as well as video games. The new study also shows that advertisers may be the biggest losers in the strike. Between the potential damage to the Academy Awards and falling TV viewership numbers, advertisers may have to scramble to get their message out. Data implies that print and video games could be important alternative vehicles for advertisers impacted by the strike.

"Ironically, the strike makes scripted programming more valuable than ever," Michael Dowling, CEO, Interpret said. "As top shows disappear from primetime, viewers may go back and view critically-lauded TV series they missed the first time around, play more video games or watch more movies on DVD. Interpret's past research has demonstrated that consumers' media habits are already splintered, and the strike is accelerating those changes."

Highlights of Interpret's national poll of Americans' media habits in the wake of the strike:

— The vast majority of Americans (94%) are aware of the writers' strike

— More than one-third of Americans (35%) have already changed their TV viewing habits as a direct result of the strike

— Three in ten (27%) are watching less network TV because of the strike

— Heavy TV viewers (21+ hrs/week) are most impacted by the strike: 32% are watching less network TV as a result

— Key beneficiaries of this decline in TV viewing so far: 1) Watching DVD movies (43% watching more because of the strike), 2) Reading books/magazines (38%), 3) Playing video games (26%), 4) Watching TV shows on DVD (23%)

— If the networks replace first-run series with reality shows and repeats, the impact will get worse: nearly half of Americans (46%) say their TV viewing behavior would change.

— Only 32% of Americans say a lingering strike would not affect TV habits

— Adults 25-34 are most likely to say their behavior would change (54%)

— Among those who are familiar with the issues involved in the strike (55% of Americans), 56% say they support the WGA, 7% support the studios, and 37% support neither/don't know.

— If the Academy Awards go on despite the strike, one-third of Americans (33%) say movie stars should NOT attend the ceremony

— Many fans say they would have a less favorable impression of actors who go

— Both new and seasoned stars would take a hit to their image among fans, especially Meryl Streep (29% less favorable among her fans), Cate Blanchett (27%), Michael Cera (26%), Jodie Foster (25%), George Clooney (25%), Brad Pitt (24%)

— Oscar's biggest fans have the strongest reaction if the show were to go on without a deal

— Among those who have watched the telecast every year for the past 5 years, half (52%) would think twice before tuning in to a struck show. One-quarter (26%) would definitely or probably not tune in.

— Among these Oscar fans, half (49%) say stars should not cross the picket lines for the awards, and those who do so risk harsher judgment: 49% of Brad Pitt's fans say they would have a less favorable opinion of him were he to attend, and 46% of Angelina Jolie's fans would think less of her.

Study Methodology

Interpret's survey was conducted online among a representative sample of 1,013 Americans 18-49.

  • Survey was conducted Friday-Saturday (January 11-12, 2008)
  • Nationally-representative sample of Americans 18-49 (must watch at least 1 hour of TV programming weekly through any method, "live," DVR, online, etc.)
  • To obtain a representative sample of Americans, potential respondents were randomly chosen from a major online research panel
  • Online data was statistically adjusted for survey response bias using a random-digit-dial telephone methodology
  • US Census estimates were used to insure that the overall sample was representative of all Americans 18-49

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