CNBC reported that Apple informed the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, IATSE, that Apple TV Plus had fewer subscribers than 20,000,000. This allowed it to offer lower rates to IATSE workers than larger streaming platforms.
Apple has not publicly disclosed subscriber numbers to its streaming network. It launched in November 2019. Apple TV Plus is smaller than its larger and more established streaming rivals, such as Netflix, which claimed in August that it had 209,000,000 subscribers.
According to an IATSE press release, workers on certain streaming media projects are paid less even though they have budgets that rival or surpass those of blockbuster films. Although the release did not mention streaming platforms, a spokesperson for Apple told CNBC that Apple had less than 20 million subscribers in the US as of July 1.
After negotiations with production companies have stopped, the union is now preparing for a strike. The release stated that the combination of the explosion in streaming and the pandemic has exacerbated work conditions. This has brought 60,000 workers behind the scenes covered under these contracts to breaking point.
Apple TV Plus features several high-budget shows, including The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Ted Lasso is its surprising hit comedy about an American football coach who coaches an English team. Ted Lasso made a strong showing at last week's Emmys. He won the Outstanding Comedy and Lead Actor in Comedy awards for star Jason Sudeikis and the supporting acting awards for Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddingham, and other awards.
Apple's Morning Show costs Apple $15 million an episode. Ted Lassos stars and writers have reportedly negotiated better contracts for the show's third season. Apple reported in July that it made a net profit in 2021 of $21.7 billion on $81.43 trillion in revenue for its third quarter.
The Verge reached out to Apple and IATSE for comment on Saturday. CNBC was told by an Apple spokesperson that Apple pays rates similar to other streaming services.