WGA West Member Earnings Dipped To $1.55 Billion Last Year; Lowest Total Since 2017

WGA West Members had fewer jobs and lower wages than last year, according to the Guild’s 2022 annual report, which found that 5,951 writers reported employment across all work sectors in 2021 – a 6.1% drop – while total writer income owed. Reported for purposes declined 7.7% to $1.55 billion. This is the lowest number of jobs since 2016 and the lowest earning since 2017.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continued into 2021, with writers’ earnings and employment reflecting disruptions to the entertainment industry,” the report said. “Across all sectors, authors reported declines in both employment and earnings.”

The report’s employment data for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022 found that screenwriter earnings declined 13.3% to $408.8 million in 2021, although the report said that figure is likely to increase with late reporting . Screenwriter employment reporting screen earnings dropped 6.8% to 1,994 writers.

Television and digital platform writers’ earnings for the Guild fell 5.5% to $1.13 billion for 2021. Overall employment in the sector was down 5.1% from 2020, with 4,934 authors reporting income from television and digital platforms, although the Guild said that figure is likely to increase with late reporting.

Reported earnings declined 21.6% among 134 writers employed in news, promotional, informational and interactive programming, a 5.2% drop from 2020 earnings of $11 million.

However, remnants are still booming, taking an all-time record of $493.6 million last year – up 5.4% from 2020’s all-time high of $493.6 million. Total television residue was up 4.7%, while screen residue rose 6.9%. New media, the largest residual category overall, accounted for almost half of the total residual aggregated at 45.2%. – up from 36.7% a year ago.

Here is the Guild’s summary of residual income for 2021:
• Television relics receipts increased to $323.43 million, which is 65.5% of the total relics collected.
• New media residuals for television programs increased by 31.7% over the previous year, increasing from $102.95 to $135.63 million.
• Although down 5.5% from the previous year, foreign television is still the second largest category for residual television after new media at $42.95 million.
• High budget SVOD residuals, which are now being tracked separately from all other new media, are now the third largest category of residuals at $26.8 million. The 5,855.6% increase between 2016 and 2021 is so large that these residuals began to be paid for due to the very small amount reported in the 2016 base year. Note the strong growth in this sector in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Further growth can be expected as these payouts received in 2020 MBA starts to pay off on an increasing number of improvement projects.
• Non-made-for-basic cable residuals are the next highest category at $25.77 and an increase of 5.6% over last year. However, this category has declined by 7.8% in the last five years.
• Domestic syndication continued its decline with a decline of 23.5% over the previous year with a residue of $22.4 million. Network prime time residuals fell 18.5% from the previous year to $20.23 million.
• Total residuals for the feature film increased from the previous year to $170.17 million. New media residuals remain the highest-grossing residuals category for feature films for the third year running at $87.53 million, an increase of 27.1% over the previous year.
• Worldwide TV remains the second largest dollar category for film, but fell 2.5% from the previous year to $37.22 million.
• Pay TV receipts, although the Guild’s third largest dollar category is $33.58 million, saw a 15.6% decline from 2020.
• Home video receipts for film continue to decline, a 35.6% decrease from 2020 to $6.17 million, and a five-year decrease of 71.1%.

An accompanying financial report by the Guild’s Membership and Finance Committee noted that the Guild distributed $15.1 million to authors and heirs in the form of foreign levies during the previous fiscal year, paid for by 21 countries in Europe and South America. goes. Since the program began 30 years ago, the Guild has distributed $290.6 million.

“This year’s financial report comes as the Guild and Industry begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the committee members wrote. “While the pandemic is not over, and it will take years to assess its full impact, there are signs of normalization. The Guild Theater reopened in March. In May, Guild employees returned to work individually on a hybrid schedule. And while managing a union during the pandemic has certainly faced challenges, the Guild’s overall financial position remains strong as we engage in 2023 MBA negotiations. ,

The Guild ended the fiscal year with total net assets of more than $92.2 million and an operating surplus of $4.5 million on total revenue of $38.9 million, down from $46.1 million in the previous fiscal year. “The decline in total revenue is due to weaker equity markets, resulting in an unrealized investment loss of $0.2 million compared to a profit of $8.8 million last year,” the report said. “Member outstanding revenue (which includes income and residuals as well as arrears on initiation fees) was $33.4 million over fiscal 2021 total of $31.4 million.”

Annual expenditures of $34.4 million were down from the fiscal 2021 total of $36.2 million. “The reduction in total expenditure was the result of several factors: the successful end of the agency campaign, a reduction in spending for in-person events limited by COVID restrictions, and a higher than normal number of vacancies in budget staff positions,” the report says.

WGA West, the only Hollywood association to disclose detailed income and employment data, said in the report that “we publish this financial information every year in the interest of transparency and fully informed membership.”

The Membership and Finance Committee is chaired by Betsy Thomas and its members are Patti Carr, Tony DeSena, Carleton Eastlake and Peter Murrieta.