Make-Good Ratings Guarantees For Actors In Commercials?

The advertising industry is looking for consistency with the actors unions -- the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio-Television Artists -- by upsetting a decades-long business model. Maybe actors should think more like marketers in this regard.

At the end of this month, the actors' contract with advertisers will expire -- which could mean a strike, and perhaps some campaigns that could go wanting in the crucial end-of-the-TV-season, pre-summer time-selling periods.

The joint industry committee, the American National Advertisers/American Association of Advertising Agencies, wants a new formula to be based on a gross ratings point model -- not the longtime pay-per-play model. This formula is a reaction to the increasing fractionalization of TV ratings points.

Big TV marketers buy all kinds of TV shows, both high- and low-rated. So performers would have to do their own media math, focusing on the size of each campaign's gross ratings points, to figure out where they stand. Still, more highly rated spots in, say, "Grey's Anatomy" or "CSI," will garner actors a theoretically bigger slice of the pie.

It's not just fractionalization. Much of this proposal also comes from TV's two-year-old currency of buying TV commercials via the commercial rating system -- not program ratings.

Why shouldn't marketers pay their performers the same way they buy commercials from the networks in the first place? In theory, this could mean that if actors do their job well, they should see higher ratings and thus more money.

All this sounds too easy, perhaps masking the real truth. TV marketers now, more than ever, are looking for ways to lower costs, as they are already pressing their media agencies to do more for even less compensation.

Perhaps this part of the new formula isn't so bad for the unions. But actors should play the same game as marketers do now.

If advertisers prevail in their plans to shift to a gross rating point method, that should mean giving actors a guarantee on ratings points delivered for those commercials --  just like what the TV advertisers who employ actors get from the networks.



2 comments about "Make-Good Ratings Guarantees For Actors In Commercials? ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 18, 2009 at 1 p.m.

    This is essentially a rewording of the ancient conundrum: Do I want to be paid what I'm worth or what I can get?

    It's really a trick question, because the rule of economics these days seems to be that people are paid whatever the consensus is regarding "fairness" as defined by those in power.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 18, 2009 at 6:47 p.m.

    As long as the actors take responsibility of all of the shows' needs from peanuts through performance, then paying them based on ratings make sense. Just because the present system may need overhauling does not mean pay for ratings has any bearings to reality.

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