Best WGA contract in 30 years. A “huge victory.” That’s what the Writers Guild of America is saying about a contract that gets the writers “in on the ground floor of new media.” Translation: the deal is not a complete disaster.
In the present tense, the dispute between the two sides was minuscule. We figured the dollar gap between the two sides over digital distribution deals was all of $7.2 million a year. The writers’ theory: Web video is nascent, and they wanted a piece.
We’ll skip the eye-glazing details. The gist is they get a flat fee for every new tv show that makes it to the Web. Three years from now, that fee becomes 2% of some of revenue the studios receive. They were initially asking for 2.5% for all three years. They’ll also get some money for old movies and tv shows that generate dollars on the web, and piece of ad-supported clips, which are now the dominant form of Web video.
The sum total? The new deal will be unlikely to net them an extra $7 million a year during the life of the three-year deal. Meanwhile, as the WSJ points out ($), the guild’s members likely lost $270 million by not working for four months. And since business models are in flux, there’s no guarantee that either side will be happy with the contract in three years, meaning the next contract talks could be just as acrimonious–or worse. So here’s the best thing we can say about the strike, from the writers’ perspective: Could have been worse.
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