Apple had less than 20 million subscribers to TV+ services in the United States and Canada as of July, and according to the International Alliance of Theatrical Film and Theater trade unions, behind-the-scenes production crews had more subscribers than streamers. has more customers. . Also claimed to be able to pay at a lower rate. A union representing TV and film workers who perform tasks such as operating cameras and making sets.
Apple has never disclosed the number of subscribers to the Apple TV+ streaming service.handjob Analysts are hesitant to quote, but it is magnified in comparison to services like Netflix, which had 209 million subscribers in the second quarter, and Disney+, which had 116 million subscribers. Many people say that is skinny.
The fact that Apple may pay a discount despite being the most valuable listed company in the world is a problem facing Hollywood workers as streaming replaces linear TV and movies. Better wages and working conditions, some shed light.
Under the current contract, high-budget jobs for streaming can offer workers lower rates if the streaming service has fewer than 20 million subscribers, as determined on July 1 of each year in the United States and Canada. Growth. A union spokesman said Apple has told IATSE that it has less than 20 million customers.
The union is currently negotiating a new deal with a coalition of film and television producers. According to an industry group spokesperson, Apple is a member of the alliance, but the alliance negotiates for all its members and does not carve out one for any particular company.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on subscriber numbers, but said the company is paying for major streaming services.
Under the current contract, production for streaming services is traditional because the profitability of streaming is “currently uncertain” and production requires more flexibility, according to a copy of the contract reviewed by CNBC. It is managed in stricter working conditions than TV shows and movies.
However, union leaders claim that streaming is no longer a notably new form of media, and companies that bankroll streaming productions will have to pay closer to traditional media productions.
An IATSE press release reported this week that talks had stalled, adding that “workers on some ‘new media’ streaming projects are on a budget that matches or exceeds hits released in the past. , the reward will be less.”
The IATSE is preparing for the strike, and a ballot will be sent on October 1 to allow the union’s 150,000 members to approve the strike, a spokesman said.
New media pay rates are one of the issues that are currently being negotiated, but the most pressing issue is set working conditions, including worsening working hours during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is. Celebrities and actors have started posting messages on social media in support of the IATSE union and the possibility of a strike.
Apple reportedly spent up to $15 million on each episode of shows like “The Morning Show” to enrich its service with premium content. Apple also bundled free trials with new phone and tablet purchases, which began to expire in July, forcing many users to determine if they were worth the $4.99 per month. Rice field. Apple sold an estimated 206 million iPhones worldwide in 2020, which equates to multiple free trials.
According to a union spokesperson, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ have less than 20 million customers and can demand a discount on the workforce.
A ViacomCBS spokeswoman said the company did not classify Paramount+ streaming numbers. NBCUniversal had no comment until published.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal, which owns and operates Peacock, is also a parent company of CNBC.