Consider this. What you and I get paid (for most values of you) depends on what we do this year, this week, etc.
What writers get paid is largely residuals from work they did in previous years.
Flip forward, say, 5 years. Convergence of TV and Internet (ok, I'm not convinced it'll quite happen exactly like that, but there'll be a lot more on-line content, so let's just pretend they have converged and there is no more traditional TV). If you're a writer, you're obviously not going to work absolutely for nothing ... so they negotiate new contracts (5 years from now) which give them a piece of the on-line distribution pie. Ok. Sounds good? No, not really, because they're being screwed on all their /past/ work which they should be earning residuals on.
Because of the fact that you earn on the past ... you have to look into the future to know what contract you need for the present. Capiche?
That is to say, if they think on-line distribution, streaming and so on, are going to be big 5, 10 years from now, they'd BETTER get it into the contracts for the stuff they're writing /now/ or they'll starve 5, 10 years from now. Sure, not everybody will starve, but the writers who write something today which turns out to be big but then never write anything big again could find themselves the target of daylight robbery by the studios.
This is what's happening now with older shows produced before the current contracts were negotiated. Writers getting 0% on VHS and DVD (I believe an example of this was "I Love Lucy", which has been in syndication for decades and made STUPIDLY large amounts of money), because VHS and DVD had not been envisioned when the show was produced, and had not been taken into account in the contracts.