As the potential for a new writers’ strike looms closer and closer, a studio head is speaking out. According to Variety, NBCUniversal’s CEO Steve Burke is “optimistic” that the writers’ strike won’t happen.
“Strikes aren’t good for anybody. I’m hopeful we’re going to get it done, and we’re coming down to the deadline,” Burke said. The deadline Burke is referring to is the midnight PST deadline on the current contract for the Writers Guild of America, which ends on May 1. If there’s no new contract agreed upon, the WGA has already said they’ll strike starting on May 2 and already announced that guild members authorized the strike.
Though a strike would hurt all of the networks, broadcast and cable, NBC could face a huge hit in terms of ratings if the strike lasts throughout the summer. Burke touched on NBC’s upcoming upfronts panel, which takes place on Monday, May 15. At the upfronts panel, NBC, and NBCUniversal overall, will have a lot to celebrate.
Burke said that NBC is currently sitting as the number one network “by more than we have ever been going back I think to the early 2000s.” Back in the early ’00s is when NBC absolutely clobbered the competition, partially due to the success of comedies like Friends, Seinfeld and Will & Grace. When all of those shows went off the air in the mid to late 00s, that’s when NBC started struggling in the ratings.
The network has started to turn that around, especially with successful dramas like Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise and the ever-stable Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Freshman breakout hit of the season This Is Us is also contributing to the recent successes at NBC.
Even NBC’s cable networks are doing well, with Burke noting that MSNBC has beaten CNN some nights in the demographic.
Burke is also optimistic about the next season being a success for NBC as well, citing the fact that NBC has the broadcast rights for the Super Bowl, which always draws a large rating and lots of eyeballs to whichever network has the game. But starting almost right after the Super Bowl are the 2018 winter Olympics, which NBC also has the broadcast rights for.