Everyone in the business knows that CEOs at big media and entertainment companies get lavish pay packages: nearly always eight figures, and sometimes nine if there’s a big deal involved (like Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos’ $38 million haul last year, or WBD CEO David Zaslav’s infamous $246 million haul in 2021).
Their compensation has been scrutinized amid the strikes — but beyond the hefty salaries, lucrative bonuses and stock options, most top executives also get their fair share of perquisites (ya know, “perks”). Some are standard (CEOs get access to company health insurance plans, too! And they also get their 401(k) contributions matched!), but there are others that, well, are unlike anything their employees would expect to see in their W-2s.
Most companies define private jet travel purely for work purposes as an essential part of the job (and many companies cite the security of their execs as making private jets a necessity), but CEOs often can bring their spouses or children along for the ride and may get to use the company jet for personal travel, too (sometimes reimbursing the company, sometimes not), so it’s often reflected in proxy filings as extra compensation.
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Company cash spent on exclusive air travel
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POUR ONE OUT for Paramount’s Bob Bakish, who did not have any aircraft use cited last year. He did record nearly $60,000 in car-service costs, however.
Perhaps the most unusual private jet perk isn’t a jet at all: It’s a helicopter, to shuttle Madison Square Garden, AMC Networks and Sphere owner James Dolan from his home in Long Island to work in Manhattan. MSG Sports paid more than $600,000 for Dolan’s helicopter and jet use last year — though it notes that MSG Entertainment and AMC Networks also contributed to those costs.
It’s something for his employees to think about while they are waiting for their delayed Long Island Railroad train to arrive.
Being a famous CEO has some downsides. Media and entertainment companies are inherently public and can stoke strong reactions from consumers. Consider Fox Corp. and its CEO, Lachlan Murdoch.
“A core aspect of our business involves broadcasting extensive news coverage of elections, sociopolitical events and public controversies and related opinion programming, which sometimes produces strong reactions from viewers and critics,” Fox wrote in its 2023 proxy filing to the SEC, adding that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch “are synonymous with the Fox brand.”
The result? Fox pays more than $1.5 million annually for Lachlan Murdoch’s residential security.
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AND THEN THERE’S Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He only takes a $1 salary (salaries are irrelevant when your net worth is more than $100 billion), but the company has an extensive security plan in place for him, having “identified specific threats to Mr. Zuckerberg as a result of the high-profile nature of being our founder, CEO, chair and controlling shareholder.” Meta paid nearly $25 million in security costs alone for Zuckerberg last year, more than every other CEO on this list combined.
Beyond the compensation portfolio, private jet and security, top execs are comped basics that rank-and-file employees shell out for without a second thought.
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Comcast gives its top executives (and, in fact, all of its employees) free cable service, provided they live within its footprint.
Disney executives get theme park tickets to Disneyland and Disney World for free, as well as merchandise discounts. MSG executives, likewise, get free tickets to games and concerts at the company’s venues. But just like some bonuses, those tickets are “integrally and directly related to the performance of their duties,” lest anyone get the wrong idea.
Country club memberships
Lionsgate paid nearly $16,000 for CEO Jon Feltheimer’s club membership dues last year, with Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel also scoring coverage of a club membership.
Video game giant Electronic Arts offers its top executives “access to a company-paid physical examination program” — above and beyond standard health care benefits for employees.
Disney matched charitable gifts for its top execs, doling out $27,600 to match donations from former CEO Bob Chapek and $65,000 for Bob Iger. Microsoft made $100,000 in matching contributions for CEO Satya Nadella.
More stocks, please
Netflix famously (or infamously, when the stock fell last year) lets its executive officers choose how much of their pay they receive in salary and how much they receive in stock. Former CEO Reed Hastings was willing to take the most risk, pairing his $650,000 salary with more than $49 million in stock options.
Former WWE CEO Stephanie McMahon and her husband, chief creative officer Paul Levesque (stage name “Triple H”), also worked in the ring as talent. They were paid $717,000 and $807,000, respectively, last year for their on-camera performances.
Parking in NYC
Parking at the office in Los Angeles is expected. In Manhattan, it’s a luxury. Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick gets a spot in midtown — worth about $500 a month — as a perk.
Ari Emanuel received $225,000 in “business management and tax advisory services.” Roku content chief Charlie Collier also had his attorney fees tied to the negotiation of his offer letter covered — for about $25,000.
And home internet, too
You may have to pay the cable company $80 a month, but some top execs don’t have to worry about it. Warner Bros. Discovery provides CEO David Zaslav “with home office audiovisual and computing equipment” and reimburses him “for limited home office expenses, including internet access.”