Streaming Offers More Opportunities, But Less Pay For Marginalized Creators [ATX]

For the past few years, streaming has appeared to be the dominant form of TV viewing. But 2022 has already seen a shake-up in the television landscape as we know it, with linear model shows like "Euphoria" breaking viewership records while streaming giant Netflix seems to flounder amid reports of lost revenue and budget upheaval.

Showrunners and creatives know firsthand how tough the choice between streaming and network can be, and today, one of them is speaking up about it. /Film's Ryan Scott reports from the Comedy Showrunners panel at the ATX Television Festival, where showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas, who co-created the Native American-led sitcom "Rutherford Falls," spoke about her experiences with pay disparity between the two formats.

Equity problems in the TV industry

"I think with streaming, I think it's more opportunity. I think people have run out of stories, have run out of ideas," she says, indicating that platforms like Peacock, where "Rutherford Falls" airs, allow for more creativity than traditional cable or network TV. But Ornelas also reveals that there's no comparison between the two in terms of compensating the people making the series happen.

"I will also say that streaming sites are paying people much less money, and I don't think it's a mistake that people suddenly want marginalized voices when they don't want to pay people their money."

Ornelas, who is an Indigenous woman, confronts several issues relating to marginalization in the cheery small-town sitcom "Rutherford Falls." Now, she's speaking up about the pay disparity she's witnessed in Hollywood. "To me, there will be true equity when there's actual equity, when people get budgets and people get time," she says. The showrunner went on to explain that she has been "afforded an experience that is not everyone's experience" thanks to series co-creators Mike Schur and Ed Helms. Ornelas has previously collaborated with Schur on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," where she worked as a producer in 2016.

"There are a lot of people making incredible shows that do not have the budgets they deserve, that do not have the crews they deserve," Ornelas says. "And everyone's working hard, those crews are working hard."

This isn't the first recent hint that the streaming sphere may be undervaluing its creators: Netflix has recently been spotted overhauling several animated projects that have already been greenlit, including several by creators of color. No such woes have been widely reported at Peacock, where "Rutherford Falls" will air its second season beginning June 16, 2022.