Strike Talks: Which Network is Going to Cave First?

Are cracks forming in the studio’s united front? As the WSJ points out today, and we pointed out yesterday, the studios have different exposures to scripted programming, and different views on the future of video entertainment on the web. So, could the WGA divide and conquer? If so, who’s most likely to buckle first?

Answer? CBS, followed by ABC/Disney. Below, we rank the networks by the likelihood that they will cave:

  1. CBS: The network is loath to sacrifice its first-place status to a strike, and it is most reliant on both scripted programming (CSI) and broadcast television. Moonves said yesterday costs will go down with an extended strike, and said he would tap Showtime programming for the network like Dexter and The Tudors.
  2. ABC/Disney: Its big hits–Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy–are all scripted. The network needs this strike resolved soon.
  3. NBC: Also reliant on scripted content.  NBC is in fourth-place, but the network represents a dwindling share of NBC U’s total business, representing just 10% of its profits.
  4. Fox: Can afford to take the hard line. Its far less reliant on scripted programming than its rivals with American Idol returning in January, the Superbowl in February, and backlog of animated shows. Vintage Simpsons, anyone?
  5. Time Warner: Probably least exposed to strike-induced financial hardship, given it is only 50% owner of The CW and its 2008 film slate is already in the bag.

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