Update: Finally, 148 days after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike, the long-running and bitter dispute is over.
Taking to X (formerly Twitter) on the evening of Tuesday, September 26, the WGA announced that its negotiating committee, WGA West Council, and WGA East Board voted unanimously to recommend the agreement to its members.
That means the strike is effectively over, with an end date and time set for 12:01am PT on Wednesday, September 27, which has now passed. However, union members will need to also agree to the deal for it to officially take effect. Members will be able to cast their votes in a ballot between October 2 and October 9. Given the unanimous vote between the WGA’s three main parties, though, we’d be surprised if union members vote against the proposals.
The WGA reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP. Today, our Negotiating Committee, WGAW Board, and WGAE Council all voted unanimously to recommend the agreement. The strike ends at 12:01 am. Check out our deal at https://t.co/c0ULMXhPL7. #WGAStrong pic.twitter.com/7z8kw9xI1pSeptember 27, 2023
Confirming the deal’s new and vastly improved terms in a statement at wgacontract.com, the WGA revealed that, as per the September 25 reports, the deal will run for three years. The new contract will end on May 1, 2026, meaning the WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will actually need to renegotiate the terms of the contract in two-and-a-half years time.
Based on a summary of the terms in the new deal, it appears the WGA have successfully negotiated a terrific contract, too. There are a lot of concessions that the AMPTP and world’s biggest entertainment studios made in order to bring the five-month strike to an end, and you can read the majority of them via the link at the start of this paragraph. We’ve also outlined the most important points below, though, to show how the new deal affects the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Max, and more:
- Annual pay increases – 5% once the deal goes through, 4% on May 2, 2024, and 3% on May 2, 2025
- Protection against Artificial Intelligence – AI tools cannot write or rewrite an individual’s works, AI-generated material will not be recognized as ‘source material’, and writers can use AI to help pen scripts as long as hiring company agrees
- Feature films on streaming platforms – For projects made with a budget equivalent to $30m or above, the initial compensation for a story and teleplay is $100,000. Writers will also earn a 26% increase in residual pay, plus a 76% increase on foreign streaming residuals for movies and TV shows
- Streaming data transparency – The WGA will be given official albeit confidential viewership data by streaming companies, including the total number of hours watched domestically and internationally
- Viewership-based streaming bonuses – Union members will earn extra residuals for High-Budget Subscription Video on Demand (HBSVOD) series and movies based on how often they’re in their first 90 days on a platform. Projects airing on HBSVOD services will net a bonus of $9,031 for 30-minute episodes, $16,415 for a 60-minute episodes, or $40,500 for a films over $30 million in budget
- Improvements to writers’ rooms – Members working in a room with at least two other writers will be paid premium rates for up to 19 weeks. Staff writers must also be paid script fees for any scripts they produce
Original story follows.
After 146 days of bitter exchanges and tense negotiations, 2023’s historic writers strike might finally be coming to an end.
Last Friday (September 22), we reported that Netflix and Disney had reportedly stepped in to help bring an end to the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) long-running dispute. Alongside the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), which is also on strike, the the WGA had helped to shut down Hollywood, with numerous movies and TV shows including Deadpool 3 and Stranger Things among the affected productions.
Now, it appears that one of those unions has won its battle against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the entertainment industry’s biggest studios. According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR) and Variety, the WGA and AMPTP have “tentatively” agreed a new deal, with the former hailing the fresh terms as “exceptional” for its members.
In a statement posted on the WGA’s X (formerly Twitter) account, it confirmed that an agreement had been struck between the two parties. However, the deal still has some way to go before it’s official and WGA members can get back to work.
The WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement. This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who stood with us for over 146 days. More details coming after contract language is finalized. #WGAStrike pic.twitter.com/GBg2wZBwGBSeptember 25, 2023
As THR and Variety report, the WGA’s negotiating committee will be asked to vote on the terms set out by the new arrangement. If approved, the WGA West’s board and WGA East’s council will run a fine-tooth comb over the deal to see if it meets their demands.
If they too sign off on it – a decision is expected on Tuesday (September 26) – union members will have the chance to vote for or against the proposals. Should the deal pass with WGA members, the strike will end on an as-yet-determined date. Until then, writers have been asked to suspend all strike action, including picketing in front of studios.
The new deal could mark a major shift in the streaming landscape. For one, its reported three-year length allows the WGA to renegotiate the terms of the contract before the decade ends. That means the WGA will have a stronger hand if any significant industry changes, especially to the ever-changing streaming landscape, occur between now and then.
Throughout the near five-month strike the WGA has also demanded major changes to how its writers are compensated by the world’s best streaming services. With a provisional deal now in place, it appears that union members might get a pay increase – and not just in the flat rates they receive from penning the best Netflix shows and best Prime Video movies among others.
It’s plausible that writers may also finally get compensation through residual checks – essentially, extra money in their pocket each time a movie or TV show is re-run and/or syndicated on streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus.
Another big sticking point during the protracted talks was the potential threat posed to writers by artificial intelligence (AI). The WGA argued that Prime Video, Max, and other streaming giants could replace those who pen the scripts for their movies and TV shows with AI tools like ChatGPT. Unsurprisingly, using such technology could put WGA members out of work, although right now it’s unclear how effective AI-powered language models would be at writing good scripts. It remains to be seen whether Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and other leading studios backed down over this particular issue, and, if they did, to what degree.
Then there are the growing calls for greater transparency over viewing figures in the streaming sector. To its credit, Netflix has been posting weekly updates about its best-performing movies and TV shows for over a year via its Netflix Top 10 website. Admittedly, it doesn’t tell the whole story about how successful certain projects have been – for one, Netflix doesn’t provide a breakdown on how many audience members watched a TV show from start to finish. In an era where others are extremely reluctant to reveal official viewership data, though, Netflix should be applauded for being more open than its streaming rivals.
We did it. We have a tentative deal.Over the coming days, we’ll discuss and vote on it, together, as a democratic union. But today, I want to thank every single WGA member, and every fellow worker who stood with us in solidarity. You made this possible. Thank you. #WGAStrong pic.twitter.com/KfzVKoPMPzSeptember 25, 2023
Again, the AMPTP, and the studios it represents, have been hesitant to bow to this demand. But – and it’s a big but – if they’ve also backtracked on this issue, we could see a massive shift in how streaming data is presented.
For example, Prime Video and Apple TV Plus have never publicly disclosed how well any of their original productions have performed. The best data we’ve received from Amazon’s flagship streamer is along the lines of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power becoming the most-watched Prime Video original TV show of all time. Meanwhile, Apple has never revealed viewing figures for the best Apple TV Plus shows or movies, such as Foundation or the 2022 Best Picture Oscar winner CODA.
If the new deal includes anything about greater viewership transparency in the industry, it’ll give writers – not just studios – a better understanding of how well their shows or films have performed. Even better, if that data has to be made public, viewers will also see which productions did or didn’t do so well, and why streamers like Hulu and Paramount Plus have unceremoniously canceled them.
We’ll learn more about some of the most important points of the deal in the coming days, which should shine a light on how ground-breaking this deal could be. Stick with TechRadar for more updates when we have them – and here’s hoping the SAG-AFTRA strike is now remedied as quickly as possible, so that we can get back to what we all enjoy most: watching a whole hold of fantastic new movies and TV shows.
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