The DGA's collective bargaining agreements guarantee members are compensated for the distribution or exhibition of their work beyond its initial use.

These payments are called “residuals” and include television reruns, home video releases, and exhibition on pay television and subscription video on demand services.  Residuals obligations do not depend on profitability, they are triggered by the project’s exhibition.  Different formulas apply depending on the nature of the project and where it is used.  Residuals can be based on gross receipts, telecasts, or the period of time a project is exhibited.

Residuals represent significant income for DGA members (~$300M in 2016), help fund the Basic Pension Plan for all participants, not just those who earn residuals, and are one of the greatest financial benefits of being a DGA member.

The Residuals Processing Department receives, processes, and distributes hundreds of thousands of residuals checks to DGA members every year. The Residuals Policing Department monitors and enforces proper residuals payments utilizing extensive data feeds, computerized systems, audit programs, and claims mechanisms that target producers and distributors who fail to meet their residuals reporting and payment obligations under the DGA’s collective bargaining agreements. The Guild files grievances on behalf of members and takes them to arbitration if necessary. The Guild also protects members’ residuals interests in bankruptcy proceedings.

  • For further information, please call the DGA Residuals Departments at 310-289-2076 or email

History of Residuals

The DGA has a long history of negotiating and enforcing new and evolving residuals provisions to benefit its members. Each new means of exhibition has required the negotiation of appropriate residual compensation, beginning with the advent of radio replays and continuing with each subsequent development; first broadcast television, then home video, pay television, basic cable, and various forms of “new media.” As the entertainment industry changes and new distribution platforms continue to emerge and develop, the DGA will continue to negotiate effective and financially rewarding residuals formulas to properly compensate members for the reuse of their work.

The concept of compensation to authors for reuse of their work was first established in Europe in the 19th century. Residuals in the United States began in the early days of live radio, when actors and musicians had to perform twice: once for the Eastern time zone and again three hours later for the Pacific time zone. With the advent of recording technology, the networks would record the first performance and simply replay it later. The talent guilds successfully demanded that their members receive compensation for those rebroadcasts.

The DGA, along with the other talent guilds, negotiated residuals for domestic reuse of television programs by the mid-1950s. 1961 saw the first DGA residuals for feature films shown on free television and 1968 ushered in residuals for foreign reuse of television programs. In 1971, the Guild negotiated the first payments for videocassettes and pay television reuse. The DGA negotiated the made-for-pay TV residuals formula in 1981, the reuse on basic cable formula in 1984, and the residuals formula for high-budget basic cable dramatic programs in 1989.

Exploitation in new media was first addressed in 2002, with the negotiation of a sideletter covering pay-per-view and subscription exhibition via the Internet. In 2008, the DGA negotiated formulas for electronic sell-through, ad-supported streaming, and the reuse of made for new media productions. In 2014, the Guild established a new formula for high budget dramatic made-for-SVOD programs, and then negotiated an unprecedented improvement to that formula just three years later.

Over the past 60 years, the residuals formulas negotiated by the DGA have proven to be a robust and significant financial benefit for DGA members. As the entertainment industry continues to shift and evolve, the Guild will continue to enforce and improve existing formulas and negotiate new ones to ensure residuals keep pace with changes in distribution methods, platforms, and consumer behavior.

DGA Headquarters - Los Angeles 310-289-2000
or toll free at 800-421-4173
DGA Offices - New York 212-258-0800
or toll free at 800-356-3754
Communications (310) 289-5333
Contracts (310) 289-2010
Credits (310) 289-2013
Government Affairs (310) 289-5358
Legal (310) 289-2014
Membership (310) 289-2000
Operations (310) 289-2021
Reports Compliance (310) 289-2064
Residuals (310) 289-2076
Signatories (310) 289-5348
Special Projects (310) 289-2088