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Actors, Writers See Possible New Media Future in DGA Deal

Original publish date: December 27, 2013

One of the more closely watched deal points of the DGA negotiations concluded last month with the studios was wage pay and residuals for new media content. Having gone first of the major guilds in the last few cycles of negotiations, the directors have tended to set the pace for so-called pattern bargaining, with writers and actors striking similar deals on new media and other issues. With streaming video on the forefront of Hollywood’s collective mind, this latest round of talks was of particular interest to the other guilds, and the directors didn’t disappoint.

The three-year agreement established, for the first time, minimum wages, terms and conditions for high budget original and derivative dramatic new media productions made for subscription video on demand (SVOD) that exceed certain minimum budget thresholds:

The agreement with the AMPTP also calls for a higher price tag on residuals for ad-supported streaming and cable ad-supported video on demand (AVOD):

These increases, particularly bumping up SVOD minimum pay to the level of network or basic cable wages, have set the stage for the upcoming SAG-AFTRA negotiations with producers. Industry insiders have watched to see how breakout shows like Amazon’s Betas and Netflix’s House of Cards would be handled vis-a-vis talent payments, after breaking the traditional network TV mould this year with entirely new distribution models that allow for simultaneous multi-episode release. In some ways, the three-year guild contract cycles ending in the coming year was good timing for both producers and talent, as the new contracts will take some of the uncertainty out of the future of these emerging formats.

Time will tell whether performers, negotiating their film/TV agreements under the merged SAG-AFTRA mantle for the first time, will get as rich a deal. The union has other issues on its mind: rectifying the wage gap under existing SAG and AFTRA agreements, shoring up qualifications for member health benefits, etc. At any rate, they will have time to think about bargaining points, as the WGA is slated to negotiate their deal first.

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