The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced Monday that they have reached a tentative agreement on SAG-AFTRA contracts for voice actors working on animated television content for network, basic cable and streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“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,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.
She attributed the deal to the negotiators and “our community of talented animation voice actors whose solidarity and engagement is what ultimately made these gains possible.”
The previous agreement, initially set to expire June 30, had been extended until July 30. Negotiations with AMPTP began on July 27. The new agreement, still subject to approval by the SAG-AFTRA Executive Committee, would apply retroactively to July 1 and extend through June 30, 2023.
The tentative deal reflects gains reached through recently concluded live action agreements, including:
— wage increases of 2.5% in the first year, 3% in the second year and 3% in the third year;
— a 1% increase in the contribution rate to the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan;
— optional wage diversions in years two and three that allow the union to shift 0.5% from the wage increase to the contribution rate for the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan or the SAG Pension Plan/AFTRA Retirement Fund;
— a 26% improvement in residuals for high-budget animated programs made for subscription streaming services like Amazon and Hulu; and
— a further reduction — from $550,000 to $500,000 — of the budget threshold that triggers high-budget coverage for half-hour animated programs made for subscription streaming services.
The pending agreement also incorporates the change to the broadcast syndication residual from a fixed residual to a revenue-based residual at 6% of distributor’s gross receipts, the same formula that applies to content moving to basic cable. That new formula was the key concession that paid for the increase in streaming residuals.
Union leaders said the change positions SAG-AFTRA animation voice actors to increase their residuals in the fastest growing area of their work, while increasing opportunities for animated programs to be shown in broadcast syndication, a declining market.
In addition to incorporating the gains of the live action agreements, the new animation deal also includes a significant animation-specific breakthrough in the requirement to pay scale for animated programs made for new media.
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 now 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.
The new deal also includes 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% and 20% in exchange for including new media as a permitted exhibition platform.
If SAG-AFTRA’s Executive Committee approves the tentative agreement, it will be submitted for ratification by affected union members.
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