Well, Duh, you say. Of course they have. But in many ways more than you would first think. And it's affected our industry's labor market as well as the world of production.
I'm old enough to remember when a TV Season was 39 weeks of original episodes and 13 weeks of reruns. That's the same era when there was a "New Fall Season." Back then an actor or director or writer on a series really had a full time job. Then it changed to 26 and 26 and some cable networks even flipped everything and started 13 originals and mixed up repeat patterns to fill 39 weeks!
Today a 'full' season is about 22 weeks, and oftentimes less. Services like Netflix and others order only 10 expisodes and the public seems to be fine with that. It seems to encourage binge viewing.
If you're Kevin Spacy starring in "House Of Cards" it's not a big deal. In fact it gives you more time to do feature films. And he's still getting a really, really nice payday for every episode. (reportedly $500K by season 3 and $1 Mil for season 5.) But what about all the supoorting actors, the directors, the writers...not to mention the stagehands and crew. If you're not an above-the-line marquee actor, working only 10 episodes is nowhere near a year's salary.
And remember when a TV series--even one that didn't come close to the wild success of Seinfeld or Friends --could go into syndication after 3 years because they had built up enough episodes? Those days are long gone. But of course the Syndication market has changed considerably as well.
So what's to be done? Well, short of negotiating your deal for the new reality, probably nothing. Speaking of negotiatiing, besure to listen to the recent post on RoundTable of the "Digital Production Buzz" where Larry Jordan interviews Jon Handel about the recent SAG-AFTRA negotiations! Or go to the DIgital Production Buzz archives http://www.digitalproductionbuzz.com/ and listen to the episode for July 6,2017
So what this all does mean is that landing on a TV series is no longer a sign of economic security. Let's face it: It may be a great credit and help you make your bones but really, It's just another gig!