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Discovery’s David Zaslav Made Nearly $130 Million Last Year

Huge options award number triples CEO’s 2017 compensation

Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav hauled in almost $130 million in 2018, more than tripling his 2017 executive compensation, according to a Friday SEC filing.

That huge all-in number was mostly thanks to an enormous increase in Zaslav’s options award. In 2018, that category alone surpassed $100 million.

Zaslav’s annual salary remained unchanged at just $3 million per year. His stock awards, which tallied $14.8 million, were down slightly from 2017. But those options skyrocketed from $15.6 million in 2017 to $102.1 million in 2018. Finally, Zaslav’s non-equity incentive plan compensation rose a bit last year to $9 million.

To add a little perspective, Discovery Inc.’s next highest-paid executive was Chief Development Officer Bruce L. Campbell, who took home $12.3 million in 2018.

Zaslav’s huge number comes about as the result of a new contract, one that goes through 2023. For Zaslav to ever actually realize those options awards as cold, hard cash, Discovery stock (DISCA) would have to grow by 5 percent or more each year through the end of his contract.

In March 2018, Discovery closed a near-$15 billion acquisition of Scripps, which had been the owner of popular cable channels like HGTV and Food Network. That sure helped shore up Zaslav’s new deal.

Zaslav has always been among Hollywood’s highest-paid executives, though last year he sat behind former CBS chief Les Moonves and Disney boss Bob Iger.