Streaming services will pay writers more following a new deal

A new contract ups the rates for writers at Amazon, Netflix and elsewhere.

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Reuters/Mike Blake
Reuters/Mike Blake

Amazon, Hulu and Netflix are going to have to open their wallets a little bit wider if they want to keep producing original shows. The Writers Guild of America has outlined a tentative 3-year contract that will increase the residuals paid to writers for every episode in a high-budget series. The exact payouts vary depending on the size of the service and the length of the show, but the companies are looking at anywhere between $3,448 more per episode for the life of the contract (for a half-hour Hulu show) to $34,637 (for an hour-long Netflix production). That may not sound like much given the money these companies can throw around, but it could add up for a series cranking out several new episodes every year.

It's not immediately clear what prompted the WGA's residual hike. However, the move is a sign of how valuable streaming video has become. You're not writing for online services because you couldn't find work at a conventional TV studio -- there's a real chance that you could win an award and otherwise earn the same kind of respect that you'd have if you were writing for cable. While this probably won't lead to an increase in your subscription fee (not in the near-term, at least), it might attract writers who'd otherwise be tempted to skip internet video.

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