According to CNBC, Apple notified the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) that its Apple TV Plus streaming platform had fewer than 20 million users, allowing it to pay IATSE workers cheaper rates than larger streaming platforms.
Apple has never released subscriber figures for its streaming network, which launched in November 2019. However, Apple TV Plus has fewer original episodes than larger, more established streaming rivals such as Netflix, which reported 209 million users in August.
According to a news release issued by the IATSE on Tuesday, “workers on certain ‘new media’ streaming projects are paid less, even on films with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally published blockbusters.” The statement made no mention of any streaming platform by name, but a representative for Apple told CNBC that the company had less than 20 million customers in the United States and Canada as of July 1st.
After negotiations with production companies stalled, the union is preparing for a possible strike, claiming in a press release that “the explosion of streaming combined with the pandemic has elevated and worsened working circumstances, putting 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers covered by these contracts at risk.”
The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, and Ted Lasso, an unexpected success comedy about an American coaching an English football club, are among the shows available on Apple TV Plus. Ted Lasso won honors for Outstanding Comedy, Lead Actor in a Comedy for star Jason Sudeikis, and supporting performances for Brett Goldstein and Hannah Waddingham at the Emmys last week.
According to reports, Apple pays $15 million per episode for The Morning Show, and many of Ted Lasso’s writers and stars have reportedly secured more lucrative contracts for the show’s third season. Apple reported a net profit of $21.7 billion on $81.43 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2021 in July.
Apple and the IATSE did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on Saturday. According to an Apple representative, it pays prices equivalent to major streaming providers.