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The only difference is that this year, much of the pedigreed fare is not on broadcast webs, but on cable.
Both channels have high-profile series in the can and set to roll in the first quarter of next year, including HBO's gamble on a new five-nights-a-week drama series, "In Treatment." If the strike persists into January, HBO and Showtime will be able to unveil their shows in an atmosphere with far less competition from broadcast webs in the areas that matter most to pay-TV outlets, namely media attention and watercooler chatter.
But with no real playbook on closing a broadcast web, the execs figured it out as they went along.
Moonves even had reason to crow about UPN, the other Viacom broadcast web under his watch.
But now the tables have turned, and the big broadcast webs increasingly are seeking reverse compensation from stations to help defray rising programming costs.
In more heavily regulated Canada, where cable and satellite platforms must carry the Big Three broadcast webs without paying fees, the issue has sparked a spat between webs and distributors.
And while reality shows offer a partial solution, viewers can handle only so much unscripted fare on the broadcast webs. What's more, successful reality shows have now become almost as expensive as scripted series, erasing the genre's historic cost advantage.
For strike-impacted broadcast webs, opting for a hot Election Night is a pretty good bet when the options are repeats or reality shows.
iTunes boasts the biggest selection, with shows from many cable nets as well as the broadcast webs, plus the simplest navigation.
The broadcast webs largely got out of the sudser business in the late 1990s.
BOTTOM LINE: It's smooth sailing the rest of the season for CBS, the strongest and most balanced of the broadcast webs.
The new TV Guide will still list offerings from broadcast webs and cable nets, but affils and indie stations will lose out.