TheWrap's annual executive compensation survey finds that yet again Sumner Redstone pays himself off the charts
How rich is Hollywood? Richer and richer, at the top anyway.
The media industry's top executives reaped the benefits of a strong 2013 when companies like Fox, Disney and CBS all saw their stocks climb by double digits. In TheWrap‘s annual look at executive compensation (did someone say over-compensation?) Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer earned a stunning 97 percent increase in compensation to $12.6 million while Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone took home a jaw-dropping $93.4 million, driven by a similar pay boost at both his companies, Viacom and CBS.
Redstone's chief executives at each company, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and CBS CEO Les Moonves, both enjoyed healthy pay increases as well.
“Sumner has paid Philippe and Les Moonves exorbitant amounts, and done it on the basis of paying ‘above average,'” Steven M. Davidoff, a professor at Ohio State University's Michael E. Moritz College of Law told TheWrap. ”But every year they move the average higher. It's a classic case study in excessive executive compensation.”
The disparity between media compensation and the high growth industry of technology remains vast, with the latter placing greater emphasis on a company's financial performance in determining compensation. Apple's Tim Cook, the CEO of a company worth more than Lionsgate, Viacom and CBS combined, earned $4.2 million, a 2 percent raise over the prior year. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a pay cut in the same year Facebook skyrocketed, making less than $1 million.
Executives like Cook, Zuckerberg and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings make their money by cashing stock options. Zuckerberg made $2.3 billion in 2012 by doing just that.
The link between performance and pay is not as clear in Hollywood. In Feltheimer's case, his company's stock soared with the blockbuster successes of “Hunger Games” and TV sales. Though earnings at Viacom rose in 2013, revenue dropped by one percent.
Viacom's share price has more than tripled over the past few years, but family control over the company also permits Redstone to continue to line his and his executives’ pockets. Dauman earned a $16.9 million cash bonus in 2013.
“In Silicon Valley we're still strongly in the ethic of you work for the upside,” technology forecaster Paul Saffo told TheWrap. “The traditional model here is an options based one, without a doubt. It comes out of the whole venture capital model. The model is that a company's founders provide sweat equity and capital markets provide the money.”
Here is an analysis of how media executives were paid last year:
Dauman entered his current position right before the financial crisis sent his company's stock into the gutter, reaching a low of $14.66 in 2008. He earned a raise anyways, and his pay has continued to increase since then as Viacom's fortunes have improved.
In the past year, Dauman oversaw improved performance from the company's cable division, as higher ratings at both Nickelodeon and the MTV Networks boosted earnings.
In return, Dauman earned more than $10 million in stock, nearly $6 million in stock options and a cash bonus of $16.9 million — on top of a base salary of $3.5 million.
Iger took a pay cut despite a year in which Disney's stock rose steadily. The board of directors explained this was because the company's “outperformance” was not as significant as the outperformance in 2012. In other words, Iger couldn't live up to his own gold standard.
The former ABC exec has shepherded the company through a period of tremendous prosperity since taking over as CEO, and Disney's strength extends throughout most of its divisions. Its theme parks and resorts generate billion in profits every quarter, and Tom Staggs, who oversees that division, is one contender to succeed Iger when he retires.
The cable business remains the single most profitable division of the company, thanks in large part to ESPN, one of the most profitable enterprises in the entire media landscape. The film studio, though down last year, remains a profit center. It should have a stronger 2014 thanks to the success of films such as “Frozen,” “Thor 2” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” among other blockbusters.
The lone weakness remains the interactive division, which lost money in 2013. That's one reason Iger spearheaded the company's acquisition of Maker Studios in recent weeks.
Rupert Murdoch's compensation dipped by $1.1 million in 2013, when he earned $28.9 million in salary, bonuses and other compensation. It represented a 3.6 percent downtick from last year.
Murdoch earned $30 million in 2012 and $33.3 million in total compensation in 2011.
A year after the scandals from News of the World rocked the company, Murdoch in 2013 oversaw News Corp.'s split into two separate, publicly traded companies. 21st Century Fox holds film and television assets such as 20th Century Fox studio and Fox News, while the new News Corp. is comprised of publishing brands like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. (The British tabloid was shuttered.)
Jon Feltheimer‘s compensation doubled to $12.6 million, a 97 percent gain in a year Lionsgate enjoyed success from “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises and TV sales. His package included $1.3 million in salary, $6 million in bonuses, $3.6 million in stock awards, $1.5 million in non-equity incentives, along with less material amounts in other compensation.
Lionsgate shares jumped 70 percent in the fiscal year that ended in March 2013, justifying the hefty pay increase.
The CEO and the company are enjoying the financial boon came from TV shows including “Nashville,” the early repayment of the Summit Entertainment term loan, and the performance of ”Hunger Games” ($690 million in box office).
Roberts has overseen the most dramatic expansion of Comcast in the company's history. It acquired General Electric's stake in NBCUniversal back in 2011, and now owns 100 percent of film and television giant. Comcast is also in the process of acquiring Time Warner Cable for $45 million.
The company's share price has fallen since the deal was proposed, but it climbed steadily throughout fiscal year 2013. The company also registered a 28 percent increase in earnings per share and a three percent boost in revenue.
Comcast's board continues to reward Roberts with modest pay increases for his work, but with annual compensation topping $30 million, he's not exactly crying his way to the bank.
This might seem like a small pay day for the CEO of one of the world's most valuable companies, but most top Apple executives earn money through stock that they cash out later.
Apple's stock has taken a beating over the last year and a half, as the company has not released a game-changing product since the iPad. That was only four years ago.
Cook did receive fewer stock awards this year as a result of the company's poor performance, but he's still banking plenty.
Facebook CEO and Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg earned $651,165 in 2013, down from $2 million dollars in 2012. His base salary in 2013 dropped to the ceremonial $1.
Of course, Zuckerberg, like many who made their fortune in start-ups, carries the bulk in his money in stock options. In 2013, Zuckerberg exercised a reported $3.3 billion worth of those. So don't worry, his Facebook Status is still “Filthy rich.”
CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves had a very nice payday indeed last year, pulling in $66.9 million, a 7.6 percent gain over 2012. His payday consisted of $3.5 million in salary, $28.5 million in bonuses and $26.5 million in stock awards, along with options and changes in Moonves’ pension value.
CBS Corp.'s stock climbed nearly 70 percent last year, while revenues and earnings jumped nine and 19 percent, respectively.
Sumner Redstone cleaned up again in 2013, topping all media moguls surveyed by TheWrap, pulling in a whopping $93.4 million for his dual roles as CBS Executive Chairman and Viacom Chairman.
At CBS, his compensation jumped to $57.2 million, an 82.7 percent year-over-year gain.
He also got an additional $36.2 million for Viacom, where nearly $26 million of Redstone's Viacom number came in changes to his pension plan.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer took a big pay cut — to the tune of $11.7 million — but she still earned $24.9 million in 2013. That is more than six times what Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made. The streaming company doubled his 2013 payday to $4 million, with $2 million as salary and the remainder in stock; it was a turnaround year for the exec, who was dinged in 2012 after an aborted attempt to split the company in two.
Like many tech execs, Hastings holds hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stock.
Brent Lang contributed to this story