Key takeaways from SAG-AFTRA’s deal to end months-long strike

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The union representing Hollywood actors reached a tentative agreement with the major film and television studios Wednesday, spelling an end to its nearly four-month strike and an even longer work stoppage for the industry.

SAG-AFTRA suspended the 118-day strike, the longest in the union’s history, on Thursday at midnight. The tentative deal comes a little over a month after Hollywood writers, who began their own strike in May, reached a separate agreement with the studios.

Between the two strikes, the industry has been at a standstill for six months, with effectively no scripted films or television shows in production since May.

Here are some key takeaways from SAG-AFTRA’s tentative deal.

Actors win pay raises, artificial intelligence protections

While many details about the agreement remain under wraps, SAG-AFTRA touted the contract Wednesday as “valued at over one billion dollars.”

The deal includes minimum pay increases and “unprecedented” provisions for consent and compensation related to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by the studios, the union said in an initial press release.

Actors who appear on the most-watched streaming shows will also receive bonuses, according to Variety.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the group that represents studios, streaming services and production companies in negotiations, described the agreement as the “biggest contract-on-contract gains in the history of the union.”

It said the pay raises represented “the largest increase in minimum wages in the last forty years” and lauded the new streaming bonuses and “extensive” AI protections in the deal.

Additional details about the agreement will not be released by SAG-AFTRA until after a review by the union’s national board Friday, according to The New York Times.

Push to secure share of streaming revenues falls short

Despite SAG-AFTRA’s various gains in the agreement, it was unable to secure a cut of streaming revenues for its members, which had been a priority for the union in negotiations, the Times reported. 

The actors union had initially proposed that studios share 2 percent of revenue from streaming, before dropping its demands to 1 percent and then a 57-cent-per-subscriber formula, according to Variety.

The issue resulted in a breakdown in talks between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP last month, when the studios said that the gap between the two sides was “too great” and that the union’s revenue sharing demands would represent “an untenable economic burden.”

The union and studios eventually came back to the negotiating table in late October, but the revenue-sharing proposal for streaming did not make it in the tentative agreement reached Wednesday.

Studios expected to continue cutting back on production

As the studios face higher labor costs in the wake of the SAG-AFTRA deal, they are expected to continue cutting back on production, according to the Times.

Companies were already reducing the amount of content they produced prior to the strikes.

The number of adult scripted series ordered by networks and streaming platforms fell by 24 percent in the second half of 2022 and by 40 percent between the same period in 2019 and 2022, the Times reported.

Disney also announced earlier this year that it was planning to cut the volume of content it produces for its streaming platforms, such as Disney+ and Hulu, in 2024 and 2025.

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