The DGA Signs a Deal While We Wait For Everyone Else…

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(Welcome to the “Most Important Story of the Week”, my bi-weekly strategy column analyzing the most important (but often not buzziest) news story of the last two weeks. I’m the Entertainment Strategy Guy, a former streaming executive who now analyzes business strategy in the entertainment industry.) 

Well, we’re in the waiting game part of the “Union Renegotiations of 2023”. As I’ve written in a few of these strategy columns since May, obviously, the WGA being on strike is the “most important story” of any given week or month. Writing that every week, though, would feel a bit…redundant.

But last week’s “Most Important Story of the Week” column went long…and I cut an entire article’s worth of stories and thoughts on the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, the AMPTP and all things strike related, so here it is as a bonus article this holiday weekend! I’ll also toss in my thoughts on data as it relates to compensation and the latest content “purge” from Paramount+.

And Happy 4th of July to all my U.S.A. readers!

Some EntStratGuy Updates

Inspired by some other Substackers, I’m going to put some “administrative” notes up here in case any of my excellent follower base can help out. For example, I’m debating trying to get my (for now inaccurately-named) “Most Important Story of the Week” columns out once a week, so let me know what you think on social media or in my inbox.

The Most Important Story of the Week  – The DGA Votes “Yes” To Their Deal

The voting members of the DGA voted “overwhelmingly” to approve their latest deal, a margin of 87% for to 13% against, so the DGA will not be joining the WGA on strike. I won’t dive super-deep into the DGA’s decision, since I did that last issue, and most of what I wrote there still applies. But we can be more confident that the DGA really did feel like they got a good deal. Only 41% of members voted, but the DGA still said that was the highest ratification percentage they’ve ever had.

I continue to be amazed by the lack of coverage of this DGA deal versus the coverage of the other unions. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many industry newsletters I’m subscribed to— too many?—and somehow I missed the news that the DGA signed a deal for an entire weekend. Some industry news round-ups put the “Turner Classic Movie” story above the DGA in terms of importance. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

This also seems like a pretty good reminder to avoid news stories based on “social media” alone. The idea that “so-and-so person/group/Twitter rando said something on Twitter” is worth an entire news article (“fans are upset at latest film/show/thing”) is less and less justified nowadays. Take this deal. I read a few articles highlighting that various directors on Twitter said they wouldn’t vote for their new deal, and this led to speculation that the deal may not pass. Yet it did. Again, overwhelmingly. Twitter just isn’t representative of the voting bodies of these various groups and it was NOT helpful in predicting this outcome. (This also applies to predicting what’s popular on television.)

Related – SAG-AFTRA Didn’t Go On Strike. Yet.

As most of my readers probably saw, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP mutually agreed to extend the deadline for twelve days.

It’s always tough to read the tea leaves in these negotiations, but the fact that these groups choose to extend their negotiating period says to me its more likely that SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP will avoid a strike. A delay signifies there is genuine hope for a deal. (The idea that SAG-AFTRA would delay going on strike because of the holiday weekend—which I heard some people speculate—doesn’t make sense to me.) Also both sides released a joint statement, which at least shows cooperation on one thing.

If the sides were as dug in as the WGA and AMPTP—when most folks thought a strike was likely the week or so before their negotiating period ended—I think SAG-AFTRA would have opted to strike early as opposed to delaying twelve days.

But, you know, don’t count it out. Whatever points are still being haggled over—and the sides say they’re haggling—may doom a deal still.

Data Story of the Week – SAG-AFTRA Is Asking for “Viewership-Based” Residuals. Here’s my Unasked For Advice Based on Two Years of Writing About Streaming Ratings

One little tidbit, in all of the SAG-AFTRA/AMPTP negotiations articles, did stick out to me: 

SAG-AFTRA is heavily pushing for a “viewership-based residual” to reward top performing streaming shows. 

Obviously I like this idea. And though I won’t take credit for this proposal—let’s be honest, it was likely in the works for a long while—I will say my article in the Ankler in March certainly felt like one of the few articles making the case for a viewership-based residual, especially compared to simply raising base rates.

But the tricky part is deciding “what” data to use. And this is where I come in.

The rest of this article is for paid subscribers of the Entertainment Strategy Guy, so if you’d like to know…

  • What types of streaming ratings metrics I’d use to determine streaming hits…
  • And what metrics I’d avoid at all costs….
  • Two pieces of tactical advice for the WGA and the AMPTP…
  • Why Paramount+’s latest round of removals should worry SAG-AFTRA and the WGA…
  • And how I’d try to save some residual payments in response…

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The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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