Both sides in the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike have weighed in on why talks broke down abruptly on Wednesday after more than a week back at the negotiating table.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told Bloomberg’s Screentime conference in Los Angeles that the union requested a levy on subscribers after it rejected an offer by the Hollywood companies for a success-based bonus along the lines of what has been enshrined in Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) new three-year contract.
Sarandos said on Thursday the levy proposal was “a bridge too far to add this deep into the negotiation”.
The Netflix co-CEO said, “We had very productive talks going. What happened last night was they introduced basically a levy on subscribers on top of this deal [see AMPTP statement here]… We had offered a success-based bonus… very similar [to what WGA accepted] – in fact it will cost four to five times more to implement it with SAG because of the [union’s significantly larger membership of 160,000 compared to WGA’s 11.500].”
Sarandos continued, “That was rejected and the counter was this levy on every subscriber, and prior to that was a levy on all revenue.”
The executive added, “The goal here is to get people back to work… all the CEOs of the AMPTP have been involved in this every day, the four of us [Sarandos, Donna Langley of NBCUniversal, Bob Iger of Disney, and Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav] have been at the table. The executive continued, “We all have been deeply involved in this every single day.”
He added, “We understand that a deal must be made, and we are confident we It’s just a matter of how we get there.”
Talking to reporters outside Netflix headquarters in Hollywood, SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Jones said he was confused and frustrated over the Hollywood companies’ decision to cancel Thursday’s bargaining session.
He added that the studios and streamers rejected revenue share proposals, while the union turned down AMPTP’s offer of a success-based bonus as its needs are very different from those of WGA and the formula would not sufficiently compensate its broad membership.
The parties also appear to be far apart on AI and minimum pay.
In the early hours of Thursday after AMPTP announced talks had broken down, SAG-AFTRA issued a statement, an excerpt of which read: “We have made big, meaningful counters on our end, including completely transforming our revenue share proposal, which would cost the companies less than 57C/ per subscriber each year. They have rejected our proposals and refused to counter.
“Instead they use bully tactics. They deliberately misrepresented the cost of this proposal to the press – overstating by 60%. They have done the same with A.I., claiming to protect performer consent, but continuing to demand “consent” on the first day of employment for use of a performer’s digital replica for an entire cinematic universe (or any franchise project).”
Thursday marks the 91st day of the strike since it began on July 14.
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