TV networks have long known the value of exclusive contracts for their stars. Networks that invest millions in developing and promoting a show don’t want to see the lead actor show up in another series on a rival network.

But in the streaming era, those exclusivity deals have become a major concern for actors. TV seasons have far fewer episodes than they did a decade ago, and there are often longer breaks between seasons. So actors often find themselves forced out of work for extended periods while they wait to hear whether their show has been picked up for another season.

The state of California is considering a bill that would up-end that arrangement. The bill, AB 437, would bar exclusivity agreements for actors. If it passed, the stars of “Stranger Things” could show up on “Euphoria,” so long as the production schedules don’t overlap.

“As long as there’s not a conflict, there really shouldn’t be that kind of restriction,” said Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, the author of the bill. “Artists should be able to work rather than putting the power with the studios.”

The bill is being pushed by SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, which has long held that exclusivity deals have become outdated.

“We just had longer and longer periods of time where people are being held, not working for their original employer and not being allowed to do anything else,” said Jeffrey P. Bennett, the union’s general counsel. “We said, ‘Look, you need to be able to at least let people go work when you are not working them.'”

But the studios are pushing back, warning that the law could make it difficult to schedule a second season of a show, as actors will be off shooting other things.

“Without the ability to secure the actors’ availability, future seasons of a TV series may be in jeopardy, putting at risk the employment of hundreds of talented and skilled individuals who work behind the camera,” argued Melissa Patack, the industry’s top lobbyist in Sacramento, at a state Senate hearing in June.

Dulé Hill, the actor who has appeared in “The West Wing” and “The Wonder Years,” testified in support of the bill at the same hearing. He said his wife, Jazmyn Simon, had wrapped a streaming series in December 2018, and had to remain out of work for two years before the show’s second season started filming in January 2021.

“It makes no sense at all,” Hill said. “Today’s fans follow performers, not productions. If I’m a superhero on one platform and a surgeon on another, it only increases audience numbers… It harms no person and no production.”

The union has argued that with so many platforms available — not just three or four networks — the studios no longer truly need exclusivity.

“We don’t buy that argument at all anymore,” Bennett said. “That’s not the way the world works anymore.”

The Motion Picture Association has argued that actors can typically get permission to perform in films, commercials, theater, and to do voiceover work during their exclusivity periods. She said the restriction applies only to work on a series. But SAG-AFTRA says that is not true, that permission is denied on all sorts of projects, and that many actors don’t even bother to ask because they know they will be refused.

The studios also argue that exclusivity periods are a subject of collective bargaining, and that therefore the Legislature should not intervene — and in fact cannot do so under federal labor law.

The bill will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Aug. 8, and if it passes it will go on to the Senate floor. The Assembly must also approve the bill before the legislative session ends at the end of the month.