ViacomCBS has disclosed the compensation for its top executives, in its second proxy filing since its creation via the recombination of Viacom and CBS Corp.
The Redstone family-controlled company said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that CEO Bob Bakish received $39 million in 2020, compared with his overall 2019 pay of nearly $36.6 million.
The Redstone family’s National Amusements controls about 80 percent of the voting shares of ViacomCBS. Shari Redstone serves as the company’s chair.
Bakish, who become permanent CEO of Viacom in December 2016, and his team have focused on growing ViacomCBS’ streaming business, including Paramount+ and the advertising-supported Pluto TV.
ViacomCBS reported 2020 net earnings from continuing operations of $783 million, a swing from a 2019 loss of $302 million despite the coronavirus pandemic hitting several of the firm’s businesses. The company’s stock fell more than 10 percent last year as the pandemic battered the entertainment industry, but has gained much ground early in 2021.
The gain has come despite Wall Street analysts sharing differing takeaways from ViacomCBS’ streaming investor day late in February, which provided more insight into its plans for Paramount+ and broader digital strategy. Among the takeaways: ViacomCBS is targeting 65 million-75 million global streaming subscribers and $7 billion in streaming revenue by 2024. Guggenheim Securities analyst Michael Morris boosted his price target on the stock by $24 after the event and summarized his take on it in the title of his report: “Seeking New Streaming Heights with Robust Content Slate, Differentiated Live Strategy.”
The pivot to streaming was a factor in the increased compensation for senior executives, with the ViacomCBS compensation committee writing in the filing “during 2020, we accelerated our participation in higher growth media segments, such as streaming and advanced advertising, while maximizing our traditional revenue sources,” adding that “in order to better align compensation outcomes with our accelerated shift in business strategy, the Committee determined to add streaming growth metrics to the core metrics for the 2021 Short Term Incentive Plan.”
ViacomCBS’ stock has gained this year, but has seen some sharp declines as of late.