Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav admitted that the gains that the Writers Guild of America made in negotiations with the Hollywood studios during their strike were largely well-deserved. Speaking as part of a lengthy profile in The New York Times about his rocky tenure at WBD, Zaslav said he has no regrets about the deal reached with the WGA: “They are right about almost everything.”
The executive even added that he has no qualms about the price of the new deal. “So what if we overpay? I’ve never regretted overpaying for great talent or a great asset.”
The writers went on strike in May, fighting for a number of transformative changes to their new contract with the AMPTP to reflect the changed Hollywood landscape. Key gains they made once negotiations restarted and the strike officially ended in September include significant raises for writers’ work, a 26% increase to residuals, minimum staffing requirements on TV shows and guaranteed protections on artificial intelligence.
The WGA also scored a residual structure for successful streaming shows – streaming titles with budgets of more than $30 million that are viewed by 20% or more of the service’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of release get a bonus equal to 50% of the fixed domestic and foreign residual.
This was a key gain as many writers have struggled in the changed landscape, where residuals from syndication on cable television have significantly decreased due to the shift to streaming.
Zaslav took part directly in negotiations with the WGA as talks resumed in September, alongside other studio heads Bob Iger (Disney), Ted Sarandos (Netflix) and Donna Langley (Universal).
The CEOs also sat down with SAG-AFTRA to bring those negotiations home, although talks with the actors’ guild extended into November, with that strike not concluding until Nov. 8.