WGA to Studios: We’re Asking for a Fraction of a Percent of Your Annual Revenue

According to estimates from the Writers Guild of America, agreeing to the guild’s proposals for a new deal would cost the studios less than one percent of each studio’s annual revenue. With the strike now two weeks in, the WGA argues that extending the strike will cost the studios much more.

If the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) accepted the WGA’s May 1 proposals, the AMPTP would collectively pay writers an extra $429 million per year. In a letter to its members, the WGA broke down the costs on an individual studio level.

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The AMPTP represents over 350 production companies; based on the eight top studio employers, the total would be approximately $343 million. Top of the list are Disney and Netflix; and they would pay an extra $75 million and $68 million, respectively.

As a percentage of total revenue, that added cost is a fraction of a percent. In Netflix’s case, it’s .214 percent (2022 revenue: $31.6 billion) and at Disney it’s .091 percent (2022 revenue: $82.7 billion).

Pure content companies like Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery will feel the pinch a little more, but we’re still talking .148 percent and .108 percent, respectively. For the tech giants Apple and Amazon, they argue, it doesn’t even rise to the level of a rounding error. Here are the costs per studio:

  • Disney – $75 mm

  • Netflix – $68 mm

  • Warner Bros. Discovery – $47 mm

  • Paramount Global – $45 mm

  • NBC Universal – $34 mm

  • Amazon – $32 mm

  • Sony – $25 mm

  • Apple – $17 mm

“These companies have made billions in profit off writers’ work, and they tell their investors every quarter about the importance of scripted content. Yet they are risking significant continued disruption in the coming weeks and months that would far outweigh the costs of settling,” the guild’s negotiating committee said in a statement to members.

The guild did not provide deeper specifics on how it calculated these per-studio costs, but referred to data about the overall state of the industry.

The AMPTP has previously doubted some of the WGA’s estimates and argued that the biggest sticking point in negotiations is not costs but what it says are “mandatory staffing” requirements. The guild argues argues that the requirements are needed to preserve the writers room and the growth of future writers; studios say it is “incompatible with the creative nature of our industry.”

The WGA messaging comes as the AMPTP is currently negotiating with the Directors Guild of America on its own contract, which expires June 30.

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