Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos revealed why the studios walked away from the negotiating table with SAG-AFTRA late on October 11. According to him, the actors guild came in with a new proposal that was simply “a bridge too far to add this deep into negotiation.”
Sarandos, speaking at the Bloomberg Screentime conference, said that SAG-AFTRA wanted a “levy” on subscribers. As the interviewer Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg said, they wanted basically taking a certain amount of money for every subscriber to a streaming service. Netflix has 238 million subscribers globally.
Sarandos said that originally, before the actors strike began back in July, SAG-AFTRA had proposed a levy on all revenue, essentially demanding a percentage of everything a streamer brings in, on top of the other raises to minimums, other streaming residual calculations, pension and healthcare, and more that are being negotiated.
What Sarandos said that the studios and AMPTP proposed instead was a “success-based bonus,” similar to what the WGA had demanded and ultimately agreed to with the studios. Doing the same for the actors, he claims, would already cost studios 4-5 times more than what it would cost to pay the writers, simply because SAG-AFTRA has so many more members. The guild, he says, rejected that proposal, and that led to the studios ultimately leaving the table and suspending talks.
“That issue that we resolved with the writers was not only accepted in the deal, but ratified by a 99% vote of the Writers Guild,” he said. “So I know that all these guilds are not created equal and they all have different needs and more bespoke needs. But like I said, that is one that worked. That rewarded success, which we agreed with, but a levy on top of our revenue or per subscriber with no insight into the revenue per subscriber or anything? It just felt like a very like a bridge too far to add this deep into negotiation.”
SAG-AFTRA did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment in response to Sarandos’ remarks.
Sarandos had said talks until that point were “very productive,” “but what happened last night was not steady or progressive.”
SAG-AFTRA early in the morning on the 12th said that the AMPTP was using “bullying tactics” by releasing the details of its proposals to the press. They also said the studios were misrepresenting and over-inflating their numbers. They believe this new proposal “would cost the companies less than 57¢ per subscriber each year.”
Take a look at the details the AMPTP released after talks broke down here.