Walt Disney Company, which became a dominant player in television production with its acquisition of Fox assets earlier this year, is pushing to transform how TV show creators are compensated for their work.
For decades, the brass ring for showrunners was seeing their series hit the 100-episode mark.
Shows reaching that milestone — usually achieved at some point in the not easily attained fifth season of a network run — became ripe for syndication, and the rich financial rewards that came with it.
These payments have gone to creators, powerful stars, and anyone else who owned a piece of the “backend.” For a hit show, such payouts could dwarf the fees earned during the early years of a show’s run.
But the streaming revolution that has upended the TV business is starting to disrupt this compensation system, which has helped finance the purchase of many a Bel Air mansion.
As of this summer, Disney is pressing TV producers and other profit participants in its shows to accept a new formula offering profits sooner in exchange for complete control of any future licensing revenue, The Los Angeles Times has learned from conversations with Hollywood agents, attorneys and union representatives. Such deals would limit the financial windfall a major hit like The Simpsons or Grey’s Anatomy could generate.
Disney wants its payment system in place as it approaches the launch of its streaming service Disney +, scheduled for November. …