Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Writers' Strike and the Month of Money

By Bobby

In a form of automobile racing held primarily in the Midwest known as sprint cars (not to be confused with NASCAR Sprint Cup), a series of races in July and August collectively have the title of the Month of Money. These races, which include the King's Royal (where the winner of the Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH) event receives a lavish coronation ceremony, complete with crown, a royal seat, and a robe) and the Super Clean Knoxville Nationals in Iowa, are regarded as the highest-paying races on the schedule and are regarded as the most prestigious races on the schedule.

Television traditionally has its "Month of Money," where networks and affiliates usually aim for the biggest events on television in a span of six to seven weeks, when most major events air during that span. The Month of Money events on television are the Golden Globe Awards (NBC), Super Bowl (Fox, NBC, CBS rotation), Grammy Awards (CBS), Daytona 500 (Fox), and Academy Awards (ABC), all of which air on Sunday nights during the Month of Money. These five events are regarded as highly-rated events that bring in huge revenues for the networks fortunate to air them; all four major networks have at least one Month of Money event, and three (NBC, CBS, Fox) of them can have two if the rotation allows them to have two. Advertising revenues for the networks and their affiliates could make or break the year if they perform well during the Month of Money; a network without a major event could be down millions, and lose precious affiliates. Such was the case after CBS was relegated to minor network status in 1994 following the loss of the NFL, and prestigious affiliates, a situation from which they have never recovered, as they were pushed into lower-power minor stations in major markets (Detroit, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Austin), which have cost them ratings power nationally.

With the Writers Guild of America strike, Fox is sitting pretty in the catbird's seat for winning the Month of Money as NBC lost the Golden Globe Awards to the strike, and ABC may be on the verge of losing the Academy Awards because of the strike, as the support of the Screen Actors Guild of the strike (note United Artists (Tom Cruise) and Worldwide Pants (David Letterman) have made independent collective bargaining agreements with the WGA) leads to boycotts of both entertainment-themed awards shows. CBS has the Grammy Awards, and the status of that awards show is currently in the fate of the union (it will go up against the Pro Bowl two out of every three years; during CBS' turn at the Pro Bowl, they will have the game moved to Saturday). Fox has the Super Bowl and Daytona 500, and both events are live sporting events, so neither event can be stopped by the strike.

The fact the Super Bowl traditionally wins that network the week is important; only a bad game with low appeal will cost the network the week. The Daytona 500 is growing into that level, as the final laps of the race are now held in prime-time, as the 2007 race ended after 7 PM.

Does the announcement of the cancellation of the Golden Globes and potential loss of the Grammys and Oscars mean Fox is home-free in the Month of Money with the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500?

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