David Zaslav’s Pay Rose 26.5% to Nearly $50 Million in 2023

The hefty raise came as Warner Bros. Discovery slashed spending and enacted layoffs

David Zaslav Cannes
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav at "The Idol" Premiere Afterparty at the 2023 Cannes film festival. (Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav saw his pay rise 26.5% to nearly $50 million in 2023, even as the media conglomerate posted significant losses and the rest of the company saw cost cutting and layoffs.

Zaslav took home $49.7 million for the year, including a $3 million salary, $23.1 million in stock awards and $22 million in bonus pay, the company said in a regulatory filing.

A host of perks also came with leading the company that is parent to Warner Bros. studios, CNN, HBO and the Max streaming platform.

Most notable among the $1.6 million in perks was $767,908 for personal use of the corporate aircraft for Zaslav and his family. Warner Bros. Discovery also spent $16,800 for a car for the executive, along with $705,182 for costs related to his personal security at his home and while he traveled.

The compensation surge came as the company’s various units made multiple moves to cut costs, including two rounds of layoffs at HBO in August alone, along with layoffs at its cable news division and cable networks in May. Warner Bros. Discovery ended 2023 with 35,300 employees, according to its annual report, down from 37,500 at the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, consumers saw the price of a Max subscription rise in January.

The company managed to more than half its loss for the year compared with 2022, but still posted a $3.13 billion loss on $41.3 billion in revenue.

Other top executives also received some eye-popping pay hikes for 2023.

CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels also saw a 26% hike, to $17.1 million from $13.5 million in 2022, while Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer Bruce Campbell saw a 33% increase to $18.3 million. Gerhard Zeiler, president of the conglomerate’s international division, saw a 30% raise to $13.3 million.

The largest bump went to Jean-Briac Perrette, CEO of Global Streaming and Games, who saw his pay rise by 43% to $20.1 million. That came as the company rebranded its streaming service to Max, combining the legacy HBO Max and Discovery+ services. The streaming division managed to squeeze out a profit of $103 million for the year, compared with a loss of nearly $2.1 billion in 2022, while driving subscriptions up to 97.7 million.

The stock options and bonuses that made up the bulk of these executive pay packages are tied to free cash flow targets, an area where the company saw progress. It also managed to cut down its massive debt to $41.9 billion from $48.6 billion at the start of the year, even as advertising revenue for its TV business fell and studio revenue slid 12%, in part because of the Hollywood strikes.

While the executives saw considerable gains for the year, the same could not be said for Warner Bros. Discovery stock, which ended 2023 at $11.38, with a gain of just $1.84 over the year. Shares have fallen since the start of 2024, and were trading at $8.41, up 10 cents, Friday morning.


2 responses to “David Zaslav’s Pay Rose 26.5% to Nearly $50 Million in 2023”

  1. Leonie Quitzon Avatar

    Your blog is a breath of fresh air in the often mundane world of online content. Your unique perspective and engaging writing style never fail to leave a lasting impression. Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

  2. Kadin Donnelly Avatar

    Your ability to distill complex concepts into digestible nuggets of wisdom is truly remarkable. I always come away from your blog feeling enlightened and inspired. Keep up the phenomenal work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.