Netflix Pens Broad Deal With SAG-AFTRA, Decoupling Streamer From Legacy Studios

Ted Sarandos - Getty - H 2019
Ore Huiying/Getty Images for Netflix

The agreement supplants the industry-wide pact Netflix previously produced under.

SAG-AFTRA and Netflix on Saturday announced that they had agreed to a new, nearly three-year contract for live-action scripted production that will also cover both performance capture and dubbing, including on international live-action and animated productions dubbed into English.

Significantly, the contract comes a year in advance of the expiration of the union’s industrywide TV/theatrical contracts, decoupling Netflix from the agreements that bind most producers and the legacy studios that are members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The new contract improves on that deal, according to the union.

“We are always looking to adapt and grow within the changing environment of our industry. This groundbreaking agreement speaks to that,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Netflix recognizes the value of working with SAG-AFTRA members, and the contributions we make in this global industry. I am gratified that this deal achieved longstanding member goals in particular the recognition of performance capture work, and other important improvements that members want and deserve.”

The new pact includes gains in theatrical residuals, greater rights for members in the areas of options and exclusivity, improved overtime rules for stunt performers and specific protections for members regarding harassment and auditions. The agreement also includes minimum salary and turnaround requirements regardless of the production's budget and concessions for guest stars and day performers in episodic series that are employed consecutively.

The new contract, which was approved by the union’s national board, will be in effect through June 30, 2022, whereas the industrywide TV/theatrical agreements expire June 30 of next year. That means SAG-AFTRA may be able to use the Netflix deal as leverage in talks with the AMPTP — and could even threaten a strike that would shut down legacy media companies, already desperate to catch up with Netflix, while leaving the Silicon Valley streamer unaffected. The AMPTP declined to comment.

“We are pleased that we were able to work with SAG-AFTRA to address these issues unique to Netflix’s production needs and we commend SAG-AFTRA leadership for its creative approach,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

“I want to salute the contracts staff led by chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez for its incredible work on this historic agreement,” said SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White. “As Netflix continues to ramp up its series and feature film production, it can do so more efficiently under this bilateral agreement, which provides enhanced terms and protections for all our members.”