For many of you, your day likely ends by watching some kind of television show. I know mine does. Even if I don’t have time to watch, or I’m too exhausted to stay awake, I still find the time. Usually, it’s a quick 30 minutes, but it’s something. Because of my busy schedule a lot of what I’ve been watching are the typical “streaming” shows. You know what I’m talking about – the original programming from Amazon or Netflix. My life is pretty uninteresting, so why am I mentioning this? Well, what we don’t think about or even consider is the actors and writers in these shows. My assumption has been that they get paid the same way that any TV actor/writer gets paid. But apparently not.
In an attempt to avert a strike, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have reached a tentative deal with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). What exactly does this mean? Well, it means that TV will go on for another day. This deal comes just after two months after AMPTP reached a deal with the Writers Guild of America. Again, what does this mean? Simply put, no writers strike and subsequently more TV for everyone to enjoy. Do you remember the writers strike of 2007/2008? I remember a couple of my beloved shows ended far too soon. It wasn’t a great time for me as I love to watch television. So I’m elated to hear that a deal has been reached for both of these groups.
Getting back to streaming, though. The concept of streaming movies and television shows has drastically changed how we consume media. Like I said before, I always just assumed that all actors received the same type of deal, regardless of how that media was presented. One of the highlights from this contract includes significant improvements in streaming new media compensation for actors. Including getting residuals within 90 days, instead of within a year. In addition, the deal included greater pay for actors who chose to work for a streaming based network, like Netflix or Amazon.
All of this is great news for the actors and writers, but it begs the question about who is going to have to pay for this deal. I’m a bit torn when it comes to the idea of paying actors a lot of money for what they do. On one hand, I think they’re incredibly talented and a lot of work goes into their craft. But on the other hand, are they doing anything that warrants that kind of pay day? I think of other professions – like nurses. They don’t get paid nearly what even a doctor gets paid, but they’re the ones helping a patient get through an illness. I’m digressing a bit, but I think you can see the point I’m trying to make.
It kind of makes sense, though, that those costs might get passed onto the consumer. I’m not saying that it will, and there’s no clear indication of that either. But over time, it only makes sense. That being said, will subscription based services like Netflix start increasing their subscription costs? And will that cause people to stop using their services? It’s a possibility if you really think about it. Many people are using subscription based services as an “add on” to their existing cable or satellite TV package. So it is currently over and above what they’re paying. If the base rate starts to jump towards $15 or $20/month, they may see a drop in subscriptions.
All that being said though, I’m not convinced of that. Perhaps they will raise the rates, but only marginally. And likely only for new subscribers. Which is a great perk for those already subscribed. Another interesting part of this deal is that now actors and writers will get residuals for TV shows and movies shown outside of the United States. Previously, the residuals only applied for domestic based re-runs. This is potentially huge, especially from a Netflix perspective. It is estimated that this deal will generate $256 for performers over the next three years, when they are due for their next contract negotiation.