Actors and writers get residuals each time an episode is aired. The amount of
that residual is not based on the ratings, so any actor can't tell how it's
doing based on that.
There are three different formulas used to compute ratings, one for network,
another for syndication, a third (and the crummiest) for cable. Crummiest in
that the amount of the residual is tied to the amount paid for the rights to
show the series. Consequently, many of the studios that own cable networks (as
Universal owns USA Network, for instance) sell the shows to themselves for the
smallest amount possible.
Hence, a residual that, for a third or fourth airing, might bring a couple
thousand bucks elsewhere, in that situation brings you literally about five
This is one of the issues being addressed in the current pre-strike
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