ATSE, SAG-AFTRA, and WGA have all been in the news this summer with respect to subscription video on demand (“SVOD”) and ad-supported video on demand (“AVOD”) platforms and the impact the continued growth of those platforms continues to have on the entertainment industry.
2018 IATSE Agreement and the Editors Guild.
IATSE leadership reached a tentative deal with the studios and networks in July to replace the prior agreement that expired on July 31, 2018. While the agreement is expected to be ratified in September by the bulk of IATSE members, the Editors Guild (Local 700) has rejected the agreement in large part. Editors Guild members and leadership don’t think that the new agreement sufficiently addresses residuals concerns (as well as other health and safety issues such as sufficient turnaround time), claiming that residuals revenue (which fund the pension and health fund) from traditional avenues of distribution such as DVD sales has greatly decreased in recent years, but the corresponding growth of SVOD content (and revenue) has not been reflected in the IATSE agreement. However, leadership of the twelve other locals that make up IATSE think that the new agreement addresses this concern adequately and are actively encouraging their members to ratify the agreement.
SAG-AFTRA Authorized Television Animation Strike.
In voting that closed July 18, more than 98% of members voting authorized a strike authorization for television animation, relating not to traditional television rate issues, but rather the lack of scale rates and residuals in animated programs made for SVOD platforms. SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”) have been negotiating new Television Animation and Basic Cable Animation Agreements to replace the agreements that expired as of June 30, 2017. As with other content, the number of animated programs for new media has continued to expand and will likely continue to do so with new streaming platforms from Disney and Warner Brother’s Boomerang (which is dedicated to animated programming). As noted in the SAG-AFTRA letter to members regarding the strike authorization, while 23 animated programs have gone into production for basic cable since the expiration of the contracts, 22 animated programs have gone into production for SVOD platforms during the same time frame.
Apple Becomes Signatory to WGA Free-to Consumer Agreement.
Apple (which is making a 1-billion-dollar investment in developing original television and motion picture content) made guild-related news this summer when it was announced that its new Writers Guild of America-signatory company, Apple Development LLC, had signed an agreement with the WGA to provide minimums and residuals for writers of content on its free-to-consumer service. The existing WGA new media agreement terms only provide minimums for SVOD and leave the negotiations for ad-based or free-to-consumer platforms to be individually negotiated with each writer. While Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube Premium are all subscription-based platforms, others, like Facebook, Crackle, and now presumably Apple (at least in part) provide free (or ad-based, aka “AVOD”) content to their viewers.