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Discovery Inc. president and CEO David Zaslav’s 2020 pay package fell to $37.7 million, compared with his 2019 compensation of $45.8 million.
In 2018, he had earned $129.4 million, following a pay day of $42.2 million in 2017. In 2018, Zaslav’s stock option awards and other performance-based incentives tied to a new contract that will keep him at the company through 2023 became the main driver for his overall compensation.
The Discovery chief received $12.5 million in stock awards and $21.79 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation. Last year, Zaslav earned a salary of $3 million, the same as in the previous two years. But he received no option awards in 2020, after receiving $6.9 million in option awards in 2019 and $102 million in option awards in 2018.
The company disclosed the compensation for Zaslav and other top executives in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gunnar Widenfels, Discovery’s CFO, received an overall compensation package of $6.9 million in 2020, just shy of the $7.3 million in total pay he earned in 2019.
And Peter Faricy, former CEO of global direct-to-consumer, earned just over $5 million last year, against $7.3 million in 2019, while Jean-Briac Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery International, took home $10.4 million in overall pay last year, down from a total pay package of $14.4 million earned in 2019.
Discovery’s stock fell about 10 percent in 2020, but surged during the first quarter of this year as as investors eyed the launch of new direct-to-consumer streaming services. The company early this year launched its Discovery+ streaming service, which currently has around 15 million worldwide paying subscribers.
In the U.S. its monthly price is $4.99 with ads and $6.99 without ads. The company has also announced deals for an international rollout. Discovery kept its content pipeline running during the pandemic in part by early on giving camera equipment to stuck-at-home Food Network and Cooking Channel hosts so they could keep shooting in their own kitchens and engaging their fan base.
Discovery is betting on the Tokyo Olympics and live sports to boost the international rollout of Discovery+ in the second half of 2021 and into 2022. Discovery International president and CEO JB Perrette said earlier this year that existing international direct-to-consumer offering Dplay will be phased out ahead of the Olympics and collapsed into the new streamer. That will be followed by increased international momentum of Discovery+ in the second half of 2021, he said.
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