WBD chief David Zaslav made nearly $50M in 2023

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David Zaslav, the CEO of media giant Warner Bros. Discovery got a hefty $10 million bump in pay in 2023.

Zaslav is now making a staggering $49.7 million in years that includes a base salary of $3 million plus $23 million in stock options and a cash bonus of $22 million.

It turns out, however, that 2023 wasn’t Zaslav’s best year. Back in 2021, when he was heading up just Discovery, his compensation soared to $247 million thanks to over $203 million in stock options. 

Since the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, Zaslav now oversees a much larger portfolio of operations, ranging from TV networks to studios to production teams. 

In 2022, the year the merger went through, he made $39.3 million in total compensation, according to records.

One could argue that Zaslav was only in charge of the entire WBD operation for part of the year (though it was around 75% of the year), so that’s why he got another bump in 2023, when he was the leader of the company for every day of the year. 

Other big earners at the company include streaming and gaming chief J.B. Perrette at $20 million, CFO Gunnar Widenfels getting $17 million and international head Gerhard Zeiler at $13.3 million. Chief revenue and strategy officer Bruce Campbell was paid $18.3 million.

These figures represent total compensation, not just base salary, which often make up the bulk of what high-level executives of major companies get paid. The information about salaries was listed in a required SEC filing that includes the top-highest paid employees. 

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WBD stockholders do on executive compensation packages, but the result is non-binding.

Meanwhile, 2023 saw layoffs in multiple units of WBD, including cutting ties with several lower-ranking executives who likely commanded high salaries (though not necessarily in the stratospheric figures of those at the very top).

Throughout 2023 there were also multiple reports of rounds of layoffs at various divisions, with sometimes a smaller number being let go while others reportedly stretched into the hundreds.

The SEC reports don’t indicate anything about lower-level employees’ pay, and it’s tough to get accurate information about that.

Glassdoor, a website that relies on users to anonymously submit their salaries (and that are not verified), suggests that producers at WBD, a role that can vary widely, make between $86,000 and $158,000 a year, while production assistants are in the $41,000 to $66,000 a year range.

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