We all enjoy streaming our favorite shows at home, but are creators being paid fairly?
One of the things we consistently talk about here is how streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are notoriously tight-lipped with their streaming numbers. We never exactly know how many people press "play" and watch more than two minutes of any program.
Aside from frustrating people who want to evaluate what people are watching and emulate it, it also has threatened the way we negotiate with writers, directors, actors, and producers. See, they might get a show on one of these channels and expect to be compensated fairly when it draws an audience... but if streamers never tell us the numbers, how can we negotiate, or expect to be paid for our hard work?
Well, directors in Europe are fighting back.
The Federation of European Screen Directors (FERA), an association of film and TV directors, is calling on global streaming companies to share their viewership figures and pay filmmakers for the measured success on their channels.
In a statement released Monday, FERA said streamers needed to provide verified viewership figures to filmmakers.
"Without information on their works’ actual performance, authors and their representatives are negotiating blindfolded," the organization said in the statement.
As of right now, streamers conduct business by doing "buyout deals," where a directors' compensation is calculated as a proportion of a film's or series' budget.
That means they don't get paid if the show becomes a massive hit. So really the only way to make a lot of money is to make a show that costs a lot. That makes no sense. Especially when you have shows like Money Heist, Lupin, and The Platform not just being successful in Europe but being global hits, with the possibility of hundreds of millions of streams.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Traditionally in Europe, film and TV directors, in addition to receiving a fee for their work on any individual project, are also compensated with a share of the exploitation rights of the film or series and additional remuneration proportionate to the commercial success of the work."
It seems like this puts directors and other creatives at a breaking point with these streamers. If they take personal risks and small pay to make titles that only make corporations wealthy, it doesn't make sense to sell to them. It's not just about art, it's about being able to afford your life.
If you can't build a sustainable career, it's hard to move forward. And none of this even accounts for creatives who see their movies showcased on the service.
It's in streamers' best interest to make a deal with these creators, and fast. Their entire business model is built on stocking shows and debuting things every week. So if they want to continue to lure new customers, they have to have things to advertise to them.
Recent legislation in Europe has worked out copyright cases in terms of who owns what when it debuts on streamers. It seems like moving forward, these kinds of cases will spread all over the world.
Streamers need to find a way to be more open with creatives and compensate them directly. Otherwise, there will be economic ramifications on both sides.
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