A show business union representing production workers says Apple claimed less than 20 million Apple TV+ subscriptions in the U.S. and Canada as of July 1st. That number allowed Apple to pay behind-the-scenes production crew lower rates than streamers with 20+ million subscriptions, a spokesperson for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees told CNBC.
Apple has never revealed subscriber numbers for its Apple TV+ streaming service, which launched in the fall of 2019.
MacDailyNews Note: A report this month from The Information says that Apple TV+ currently has some 40 million subscribers, with approximately 50% being paying subscribers and the other half on the free trial period.
Under the current contract, high-budget productions intended for streaming can offer lower rates to workers if the streaming service has less than 20 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, which is determined on July 1 every year. Apple told IATSE that it had less than 20 million subscribers, a union spokesman said.
The union is currently in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over a new contract. Apple is a member of the alliance, but the alliance negotiates for all of its members, and doesn’t create carve-outs for specific companies, according to a spokesperson for the industry group.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on subscriber numbers but said the company pays rates in line with leading streaming services.
IATSE is gearing up for a strike, its spokesman said, and ballots allowing the union’s 150,000 members to authorize a strike will be sent out on October 1.
While new media pay rates are one of the issues currently under negotiation, the most pressing issue is working conditions on set, including long working hours, which have gotten worse during the Covid-19 pandemic, the union spokesperson said.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple is simply following the current IATSE contract.
Like Apple TV+, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’ Paramount+ also have under 20 million subscribers, allowing them to pay behind-the-scenes production crew lower rates as well, the union spokesman told CNBC.
Good luck to the IATSE in their contract negotiations.