Apple reportedly told a TV and movie workers union that TV Plus had fewer than 20 million subscriptions

Apple told the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) that its Apple TV Plus streaming platform had fewer than 20 million subscribers, allowing it to pay lower rates to IATSE employees than larger streaming platforms. CNBC reported:.

Apple has never publicly released subscriber numbers for its streaming network, which launched in November 2019. But Apple TV Plus has fewer original shows than bigger, more established streaming rivals like Netflix, which said in August it had 209 million subscribers.

“Employees on certain ‘new media’ streaming projects are paid less, even for productions with budgets comparable to or greater than those of traditionally released blockbusters,” said a press release posted Tuesday by IATSE. The release didn’t name any streaming platform, but a spokesperson told CNBC that as of July 1, Apple claimed fewer than 20 million subscribers in the US and Canada.

The union is preparing for a possible strike after negotiations with manufacturing companies stalled, saying in the release that “the explosion of streaming coupled with the pandemic has worsened and worsened working conditions, leaving 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers under these contracts. falling to a breaking point.”

Apple TV Plus has several big budget shows on the list, including: The morning show, with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, and Ted Lasso, his surprising hit comedy about an American who coaches an English football club. Ted Lasso had a big show at the Emmys last week, taking home awards for Outstanding Comedy, Lead Actor in a Comedy for star Jason Sudeikis, and supporting acting awards for Brett Goldstein and Hannah Waddingham.

The morning show reportedly costs Apple $15 million per episode, and many of Ted Lasso‘s writers and stars have reportedly negotiated more lucrative contracts for the show’s third season. Apple said in July it had net income of $21.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021 on revenue of $81.43 billion.

Apple and IATSE did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The edge on Saturday. An Apple spokesperson told CNBC it pays rates comparable to leading streaming services.