Netflix Shareholders Reject Execs’ $166 Million Payday in Rare Dissent Amid WGA Strike

“Netflix’s board needs to spend less time thinking up ways to pay its executive team more money,” WGA West said in response to the nonbinding vote

Netflix Co-Ceos
From Left, Netflix chairman Reed Hastings and Co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters.

Netflix shareholders have voted against the company’s $166 million executive pay packages in a rare dissent after the WGA urged shareholders to reject the pay packages, according to media reports.

The vote, which included the pay packages for co-CEO Ted Sarandos, former co-CEO Reed Hastings and Greg Peters, who was elevated from COO to co-CEO earlier this year, is nonbinding and serves a purely advisory function. Still, rejections for the “Say on Pay” proposals are rare, with only 1.5% of companies who asked shareholders to weigh in on executive compensation packages having rejected the pay proposals this year.

The rejection comes just days after WGA West president Meredith Stiehm sent an open letter to Netflix and Comcast shareholders calling on them to reject the pay packages in the impending vote as the guild stretched into their fifth week of striking.

“Netflix’s content pipeline has been blocked, with dozens of projects that were in development or ordered to series as of May 1st unable to move forward until WGA negotiations conclude,” Stiehm wrote in the letter to Netflix shareholders. “A delay in the writing, production, and release of new content may impact Netflix’s ability to attract and retain subscribers and viewers just as the company asks customers to watch advertising and pay more for its content.”

In response to Thursday’s decision, the WGA pointed out the “outlandish” pay packages and how the “excessive sum” could instead be used to fund “Netflix’s annual share of all of WGA’s proposed improvements for writers — twice over.”

“Instead, this money paid the top Netflix execs who are creating risk for the company and shareholders by not offering writers a fair deal,” the WGA wrote in statement posted to Twitter. “Netflix’s board needs to spend less time thinking up ways to pay its executive team more money and instead address the writers’ strike that is delaying major shows like ‘Stranger Things.’”

In 2022, even as Netflix’s stock fell over 51% since the prior year, Hastings earned $51.1 million in total compensation last year while Sarandos brought in $50.3 million and Peters received $28.1 million. 

With the WGA strike underway, the guild has targeted studios’ large pay packages, recently releasing an infographic spotlighting the combined $773 million in total compensation received by top Hollywood execs.