SAG-AFTRA taps Nielsen for streaming data to enforce new contract

SAG-AFTRA members picket in Los Angeles.
The SAG-AFTRA strike won concessions from Netflix and others about sharing streaming viewership data. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

SAG-AFTRA has tapped audience measurement company Nielsen to provide streaming data that will inform how the performers union enforces certain terms of its new contract with the top studios.

Nielsen announced Thursday that it will function as the official third-party provider of streaming viewership numbers for the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The Nielsen data is expected to complement additional viewership info supplied by the streaming giants themselves.

“New business models require new tools, and that’s why we’ve enlisted Nielsen,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator and national executive director of SAG-AFTRA. “The information they provide will give us the means to cross-check the data streamers give us and ensure employers are fulfilling their contractual obligations to our members.”

Read more: Why the war over streaming data is at the heart of Hollywood's strikes

The partnership comes several months after SAG-AFTRA reached a deal with the major studios and streamers to end the 118-day actors' strike. As part of that three-year pact, the streaming companies have agreed to share viewership numbers with the guild.

SAG-AFTRA intends to use the data to qualify for bonuses performers employed on hit movies and TV shows streaming on Netflix, Max, Amazon's Prime Video and other platforms. Per the contract, actors are entitled to a bonus (in addition to residuals) if their program is viewed by at least 20% of the streaming service's domestic subscribers within the first 90 days of its release.

Twenty-five percent of the bonus pool will go to a newly created streaming payment distribution fund, which will fund streaming bonuses for additional performers.

Read more: SAG-AFTRA committee approves deal with studios to end historic strike

“The rapid evolution of the media landscape and audience behaviors over the past decade has not only affected how content is consumed and measured but also greatly impacts the financial models on which the entertainment industry operates,” said Karthik Rao, chief executive of Nielsen.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.