USAN ON TV/TH & STREAMING
USAN, Unite for Strength, and Union Strong leaders from around the country have led the way to updating and modernizing our master Theatrical and TV contracts resulting in $1.5 Billion dollars of gains for members, since the MF-led contract negotiations debacle in 2008 (which resulted in $100 million dollars of losses to members).
DATA AND STRATEGY DRIVEN
Beginning in 2009 we started building a smart, data-driven, and focused strategy, using our growing leverage brought about through merger, to make gains in our contracts.
Up until then, the union had been focusing on the past, trying to build on old contracts without truly recognizing the need to peer forward into the future and stay on top of the exploding changes happening to the way people viewed entertainment.
From four networks and movies in the 1970s, the industry moved to (among others) multiple networks, hundreds of cable stations, digi-nets, streaming platforms, video-on-demand, apps, and movies being released in theaters and on streaming platforms concurrently.
Merger enabled us to combine the legacy SAG and AFTRA television contracts with existing cable contracts to create a master SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical agreement in 2014.
EDUCATING AND INVOLVING MEMBERS
Educating and involving members who work these contracts is paramount to developing our focused strategies. Investing in your future by becoming involved and making your voice heard is fundamental to our belief that an educated member is an involved member.
The gains we have made are because we are working actors who live and work these contracts. Your concerns are our concerns, and we want to hear from all voices.
We urge you to attend Wages and Working conditions committee meetings—which are open meetings where members can share their thoughts on a particular contract—to make your voice heard.
In 2019 SAG-AFTRA negotiated a separate standalone contract with Netflix—they are not part of the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), with whom we negotiate our master TV/TH Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA).
Improved terms in the Netflix agreement included:
– Establishing performance capture as covered work
– Affirmed coverage of dubbing, which applies to all of Netflix’s foreign-language
live-action and animated motion pictures dubbed into English.
– Gains in theatrical residuals
– Better terms for members subjected to options and exclusivity terms
– Improved overtime rules for stunt performers
– Protections for members regarding harassment and auditions.
This new contract has given us leverage to improve contract terms in the master CBA: by essentially allowing us to pit Netflix against the AMPTP (think: most major networks) in our separate negotiations.
For example, there are gains we achieved with Netflix, like those in dubbing, which have allowed us to improve dubbing terms and more importantly, coverage, with other production companies.
IMPROVING STREAMING RESIDUALS
It has been vital to bring streaming platforms into our contract, and exponentially grow those HBSVOD (High Budget Streaming Video On Demand) residual streams to ensure members receive proper compensation as platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu continue to grow.
There are fundamentally two kinds of streaming –
1. move over: when a TV show changes platforms. For example, if Better Call Saul moves from AMC to Netflix, or a film starts streaming on Disney+ after a theatrical run. When this happens, there is a percentage of license fee residual attached to them, exactly like a network TV show moving to cable.
2. made for: when content is created by streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc., and then remains on that same platform for the next several years. These have a fixed residual attached to them, which is similar to a network rerun.
Beginning in 2011, as the “made for” market grew, we started to expand that residual structure–from a license fee based residual in 2011 to a fixed residual in 2014 which was substantially increased in the 2017 contract. We separated foreign airings creating a brand new residual stream. Combined, the new domestic and foreign residual formulas resulted in a 300% increase in the first two years of streaming.
Then in 2020, we once again dramatically increased the fixed residual in both domestic and foreign streaming.
The ever-changing industry continues to pose challenges, but we remain committed to strengthening contract enforcement, improving pay rates (especially in lower budget new media), and increasing residual streams.
Our team is specifically focused on the issues of work week hours, ending unfair options and exclusivity, expanding performance capture coverage, and is sensitive to the specific concerns of background and stunt performers.
Building a smart, focused and powerfully leveraged strategy to make gains in our contracts is the USAN, Unite for Strength, and Union Strong focus and promise.