Stranger Things cast in season 4

Netflix Streams ‘Stranger Things’ for Free on TikTok, Raising Questions About Residuals

Are they paying the actors for these "free" live-streams?

Netflix is currently streaming Stranger Things for free on TikTok for Stranger Things Day. However, considering the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, this move raises questions about whether actors are getting residuals for these views.

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This is, unfortunately, an increasingly common move by studios and streamers. Paramount did a similar thing last month, putting the entirety of Mean Girls on TikTok for free on October 3. As with Netflix, it’s not clear if or how much the actors and writers were paid residuals for it. It seems that putting popular media online is a marketing ploy for studios and their streaming services that also serves to undercut the residuals for actors and writers who made the media. The move is doubly ironic considering the streamers’ fight against piracy, only to now pull the same thing as a publicity stunt.

It’s especially notable as one of the main points SAG-AFTRA is striking over is the issue of residuals, especially for extras and lower billed actors. Many striking actors and writers have also accused the studios of now delaying their residual checks as a form of retaliation against their striking, though there was no confirmation of this by either the studios or the unions.

Still, this move feels similar to how Netflix and many other studios and streaming services have constantly changed how views are counted, which some argue is a tactic to undercut negotiations for actors and writers who want to be fairly compensated for their work on hit shows. Disney Channel, for example, never had a show go beyond three seasons without some kind of change or reboot because after three seasons, they would have to increase pay for cast and crew.

Netflix appears to be using the free streaming of Stranger Things, as well as behind-the-scenes photos and videos from the show, as a means of changing the perception of their company as greedy and power-hungry. Netflix knows that Stranger Things is their big cash cow and is thus using love of the show to sidestep the current issue of the SAG-AFTRA strike and the studios’ unwillingness to listen to the actors’ needs.

Unfortunately, despite public support for the strike, this move appears to have been successful. The Stranger Things livestream currently has an audience of 1.3 million viewers on TikTok and that will probably only increase throughout the day.

If you do want to celebrate Stranger Things—and the actors who made it—don’t forget that Netflix and the AMPTP could end the strike tomorrow if they chose to. They are the ones delaying season 5. Not the writers, not the actors—Netflix.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.