Actors on Picket Lines React to SAG – Studio Stalemate: ‘They Can Afford 57 Cents per Subscriber a Year’

“They don’t want to give any of their money away,” one striking actor tells TheWrap

sag-aftra wga strike
Members of WGA East and SAG-AFTRA hold picket signs in New York City (Credit: Getty Images)

SAG-AFTRA picketers on the strike lines at Amazon Studios in Culver City weren’t having the argument that studios could not pay a per-subscriber fee to their guild on Monday, as one put it: “They can afford 57 cents per subscriber.”

TheWrap reported Monday morning that the sticking point that led the studios to walk away from the negoitating table was a SAG-AFTRA demand for a viewership bonus of a $1 per subscriber, per year — a proposal that, according to the union’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, actually amounted to 57 cents per subscriber after removing non-SAG shows. The studios had already turned down the idea of sharing revenue.

“I think they can afford 57 cents per subscriber a year to pay 166,000 actors,” the picketer, who declined to be identified, said.

“The truth is, it seems like no revenue share works for the studio bosses,” the picketer continued. “They don’t want to share, they don’t want to give any of their money away when each studio is making billions of dollars a year.”

Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Disney’s Bob Iger and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley rejected the subscriber proposal, believing they had already given substantial pay increases to actors in their negotiations so far, and a flat fee on their subscription earnings, as Sarandos later said, was “a bridge too far.”

The studios also said they were worried they’d need to give a similar deal to other guilds. The picketer had thoughts about that, as well.

“Talk about pattern bargaining as if it’s some sort of requirement,” the individual said. “‘Oh, because you’re all sister guilds, you have to get the same thing!’”

“That’s not the case,” the person added. “We don’t have pattern bargaining, it doesn’t work that our contract is going to be the same as the DGA or WGA. Once they’ve negotiated their contract, that’s it. That’s their contract.”

In terms of the studios’ approach to letting SAG-AFTRA picket longer and drag out the strike?

“It is disheartening, it is frustrating,” a second picketer, who also preferred not to be identified, told TheWrap. “But at the end of the day, their earnings reports are going to come out. They don’t have much new content.”

“They gave the writers a good deal,” they added. “There’s good content being written, and in a couple of weeks, guess what? They’re going to be ready to shoot — and you can’t shoot currently without us.”

In a statement issued the evening of Oct. 11, the studios said the cost of the union’s proposed viewership bonus — an item Sarandos coined the next day as a “levy” — would amount to an additional $800 million a year. 

In its own statement released to members and published on social media, SAG-AFTRA said that the AMPTP was using “bully tactics” and “intentionally misrepresented” the cost of the guild’s proposal, overestimating its cost by 60%.

For all of TheWrap’s Hollywood strike coverage, click here.


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