SAG-AFTRA Executive Committee Unanimously Recommends Ratification Of New TV Animation Agreement

The SAG-AFTRA executive committee has unanimously approved the union’s new Television Animation Agreements, which will now be sent with a recommended “yes vote” to the members for ratification. The new three-year pact, which will be retroactive to July 1, covers animated programs produced for television, including network, basic cable and streaming platforms such as Hulu and Amazon Prime. The deal was reached earlier this month with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The new agreement builds off of the union’s recently-ratified live action film and TV contract and incorporates many of the applicable gains of that agreement, including:

• Wage increases of 2.5% in the first year, 3% in the second year and 3% in the third year;
• A one percentage point increase in the contribution rate to the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan and optional wage diversions in the second and third years that will allow the union to shift .5% from the wage increase to the contribution rate for the 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 of the budget threshold that triggers high-budget coverage for half-hour animated programs made for subscription streaming services from $550,000 to $500,000.

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The new deal also incorporates changes to broadcast syndication residuals, 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. SAG-AFTRA said that the new formula was the key concession it made to pave the way for the increase in streaming residuals – a tradeoff that it says will position 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.

In addition to incorporating the gains made in its new live action agreements, the union said that the new animation deal also includes a significant animation-specific breakthrough in the requirement to pay scale for animated programs made for new media. Now, 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.

The new deal also includes an animation-specific gain in the payments for “interstitial bits” – animated programs less than two minutes in length.

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