Strike Drives Viewers Online, Survey Says

NEW YORK New research from MindShare concludes that the Hollywood writers’ strike, which began in November, is beginning to take a serious toll on TV viewing behavior.

Almost half of those surveyed in the poll said they were spending more time online as a result of the repeat programming they have encountered due to the strike. More than 60 percent of viewers said their favorite shows were now in repeat mode.

“Most people believe the strike will continue for another three weeks or a month, so I think they realize this is a somewhat long-term proposition,” said Tata Sato, director of consumer insights at MindShare. Sato added that while close to half of those polled are “frustrated” that their favorite programs are affected, “they still support the idea of the writers getting a fair deal.”

MindShare surveyed 1,000 adults via an online poll conducted Jan. 11-14. The survey is a follow-up to one the WPP Group-owned media shop conducted Nov. 9-12, 2007, shortly after the strike began.

There is now near universal awareness of the strike, with 92 percent of those polled indicating that they know about the job action. By comparison, only about two-thirds of respondents in the November study were aware of the strike.

About half of those surveyed in January said the strike would “really impact/change their TV viewing habits.” By comparison, only 24 percent of respondents in the earlier survey believed the strike would significantly change their viewing habits.

While going online topped the list of alternative activities to watching their favorite TV shows, reading and watching pre-recorded DVDs tied as the second most-cited alternative to watching strike-affected programming.

So far, most viewers said they aren’t prepared to abandon the medium over the strike. About 70 percent said they would return to watching their favorite show after the strike ends, while 28 percent said they might not or definitely would not return.