In the past two years, the guild has organized several nonfiction podcast companies, including Gimlet, The Ringer and Parcast. And though most of the 600,000 podcasts currently available are nonfiction, scripted audio dramas and comedies are a rapidly growing part of the market – and increasingly a source of work for writers in other mediums, including guild members who write for film and television.
“Major companies are investing in scripted podcasts because of the talent of the writers and the quality of the storytelling in the space,” said WGA East president Beau Willimon. “Ultimately, a script is a script – writing an audio drama or comedy requires no less skill or creativity than writing for film and television – and scripted podcast writers are as entitled to quality benefits and protections as their counterparts in film and television.”
As the industry grows, he said, “the Guild is committed to protecting the writers who have made audio fiction great, and to ensuring that as more and more writers work in the industry, all writers are able to expect fair standards, access to health and pension benefits, and strong protections from their Guild.”
“Companies like Audible and Spotify monetize scripted podcast work through ad sales and subscription revenue, and production entities – including TV networks – often use scripted podcasts to inexpensively generate IP that they can turn into a film or television series,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “As production of scripted podcasts reaches new heights, it has become increasingly clear that people who craft these programs should be protected by Guild contracts, and should participate in the value created by their work.”