SAG turmoil, digital formats help fuel transition

As pilot season kicks into high gear, it appears that AFTRA is continuing to make inroads in covering scripted primetime skeins.

AFTRA-covered pilots to date include six at ABC, six and NBC and three at CBS; the Big Four nets typically order 15-20 pilots a year.

AFTRA benefitted greatly from the turmoil surrounding SAG and its contract negotiations with the majors during pilot season last year. The studios opted to produce the majority of primetime scripted pilots under AFTRA contracts amid the threat of a strike by SAG.

SAG has exclusive jurisdiction for primetime skeins shot on film while the unions share jurisdiction for shows shot electronically. With so many shows now shot in a digital format, AFTRA was able to cover many that previously would have gone to SAG by default. There are no substantial differences in the financial terms of the two contracts, so the continued flow of projects to AFTRA may be spurred by residual concern that SAG is a more volatile org.

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