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The Million-Dollar Paychecks of Streaming Executives


This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Florian Zandt


In the fiscal year 2022, the CEOs of selected companies connected to big Western streaming services like Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Paramount+ and Netflix made a combined $274 million, most of which can be attributed to stock or option awards and other bonuses tied, among other factors, to revenue and income. For example, Walt Disney CEO Robert Chapek received a base salary of $2.5 million, stock awards amounting to $10.8 million and total compensation of $24.2 million. Chapek was replaced by current CEO Bob Iger in November 2022, who is not included in this list due to Disney's fiscal year ending in October. As our chart shows, Chapek's far from the biggest earner in the streaming media CEO circle.


Netflix's CEOS Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos were compensated with $34.7 million and $40 million, respectively, in 2022. The high number attributed to Comcast's CEOs can be explained by the broadcasting conglomerate employing four chief executive officers for its various branches. Jeffrey Shell, the former CEO of Peacock's and Hulu's parent company NBCUniversal ousted after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a CNBC news anchor, received $21.6 million last year, although he did forfeit stock options and other bonuses due to his termination in April 2023. While Apple, Sony and Amazon also run streaming services, these companies were excluded from this analysis because their business focus isn't primarily in the film industry.


As is often the case with labor disputes such as the current strike of the actors' and media professional's union Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) as well as the Writers Guild of America (WGA), fair pay and good working conditions for workers when juxtaposed with the compensation for executives is at the heart of the matter. Both unions' contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) representing the employers' side broke down due to the inability to reach an agreement on residual payments and the usage of AI to circumvent paying live actors, among other factors. The writers' strike has been ongoing since May 2, while SAG-AFTRA members joined the picket lines this Friday.


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