AMPTP, SAG-AFTRA Reach Tentative TV Animation Deal

Hollywood Sign - Getty - H - 2020

SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reached a tentative agreement for a three-year TV animation contract, which would cover animated programs produced for network TV, basic cable and streaming platforms.

The previous agreement, originally set to expire on June 30, was extended until July 30. The new proposed agreement will now go to the SAG-AFTRA executive committee for approval before going to members for ratification. If accepted it would apply retroactively to July 1 and run through June 30, 2023.

Specific to work for subscription streaming services, the tentative deal includes a 26 percent rise in residuals for "high-budget" animated programs; and a reduction to the budget threshold that triggers "high budget" coverage for half-hour animated programs from $550,000 to $500,000," according to SAG-AFTRA.

The agreement incorporates a change to the broadcast syndication residual from a fixed residual to a revenue-based residual at 6 percent of distributor’s gross ?receipts, the same formula that applies to content moving to basic cable. According to SAG-AFTRA, "the new formula was the key concession that paid for the increase in streaming residuals, an exchange that positions SAG-AFTRA animation voice actors to grow their residuals in the fastest growing area of their work while increasing opportunities for animated programs to be exhibited in broadcast syndication, which is a declining market."

The tentative deal includes a wage increase of 2.5 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year, and 3 percent in the third. The deal would offer a 1 percent increase in the contribution rate to the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and optional wage diversions in year 2 and 3 that allow the union to shift 0.5 percent from the wage increase to the contribution rate for the Health Plan or the SAG Pension Plan/AFTRA Retirement Fund.

In addition to incorporating items that appear in the recently ratified live action agreement, the new animation deal also includes an animation-specific requirement to pay wages at at least scale for animated programs made for new media. According to the union, if the deal is ratified, "animated programs made for subscription streaming services that do not qualify as “high-budget” – because they do not reach the minimum required runtime of 20 minutes or do not reach the new budget threshold of $500,000 – will nevertheless be required to pay scale if they are at least 11 minutes long and have a budget of at least $25,000 per minute. That means that 11-minute animated programs made for subscription streaming services – a standard length for some shows – will need to pay scale at budget levels as low as $275,000."

Further, the union reported that deal would include "an animation-specific gain in the payments for 'interstitial bits' – animated programs less than two minutes in length – increasing the required cycle payments between 5.4 percent and 20 percent in exchange for including new media as a permitted exhibition platform."

Said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris in a released statement: “This is a future-focused deal that builds off our successful television and film contract negotiations and even breaks new ground in the application of scale minimums to animated programs made for subscription streaming services, a very important bread-and-butter issue for our members and a strategic breakthrough that is unique to this contract."

Negotiations with AMPTP began on July 27. SAG-AFTRA chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez served as lead negotiator for the union and Bob Bergen and David Sobolov co-chaired the member-led negotiating committee.