Discovery CEO David Zaslav's 2018 Pay Spikes to $129.4 Million

David Zaslav - Getty - H 2018
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

David Zaslav

The cable group boss, who merged his company with Scripps Networks Interactive, made $42.2 million in 2017.

Discovery Inc. president and CEO David Zaslav's 2018 pay package jumped 207 percent to $129.4 million, compared with $42.2 million in 2017.

The company disclosed the compensation for Zaslav and other top executives in a regulatory filing issued March 22.

Zaslav's base salary remained unchanged at $3 million, and option awards and other performance-based incentives became the main driver for the big leap in his overall compensation.

He earned $102 million in option awards in 2018, against a year-earlier $15.6 million, while his stock awards at $14.8 million last year and another $9 million in a non-equity incentive plan were roughly in line with the same compensation categories in 2017.

Zaslav's big pay jump is also the result of a new contract to run through to 2023, which includes a large upfront grant tied to his company's stock performance.

"Mr Zaslav led extraordinary operating accomplishments, including the successful acquisition and integration of Scripps Networks with significant cost and operating synergies, other strategic acquisitions and partnerships to drive our direct to consumer strategy, and the broadcast of our first Olympics Games across Europe," the Discovery board said in the SEC filing to explain the grounds for Zaslav's compensation spike last year.

Zaslav also made $37.2 million in 2016 and $32.4 million in 2015. His 2018 compensation is still down on the $156.08 million he made in 2014, which had been one of the biggest pay packages in corporate America in recent years as the CEO got big stock and options awards for signing a new long-term employment contract in January of that year.

The SEC filing reveals Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, who joined the company two years ago, saw his total pay rise to $6.64 million in 2018, against a year-earlier $6 million. And Bruce Campbell, chief development, distribution and legal officer saw his overall compensation last year jump to $12.3 million, compared to $7.75 million in 2017.

Discovery's stock rose 10 percent last year, while net income of $594 million meant a swing from a 2017 loss of $337 million.  

Discovery last year closed its $14.6 billion takeover of Scripps Networks Interactive and struck skinny bundle carriage deals.