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Here's Who's Making the Big Bucks in Cable

The cable industry gets a lot of doom and gloom coverage, but one thing's still looking up... CEO salaries.

In a list of top cable and media CEOs, total compensation for 2014 averaged out at nearly $40 million. Yes, that sounds like a lot of money, but there are a couple of outliers throwing that average off. Take out the top two earners -- Discovery Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) CEO David Zaslav and Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) CEO Michael Fries -- and the average drops down to a much more reasonable number just shy of $30 million. (See Cable Execs Are Minting Money.)

How do we know? Light Reading waded through SEC filings to find out whose salaries in the cable and media industries were obscenely over the top last year, and whose were only mildly eyebrow-raising. We learned all about which CEOs are incented to "drive immediate shareholder alignment," and then we rubbed the sleep from our eyes and compiled a few simple charts to rank executive earnings from top to bottom.

A few highlights:

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) CEO Brian Roberts earned $32.96 million last year, but still couldn't edge out Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) CEO Rob Marcus on the list. Marcus brought home $34.62 million.

  • Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings was on the lower end of the earnings scale, netting only $11.1 million.

  • There was a tremendous range between executives' base salaries and their total take-home pay. Consider CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) CEO Leslie Moonves. Moonves had a base salary of $3.51 million, but earned $57.18 million in total last year.

For all of the details on cable executive pay, read our Prime Reading special: Cable Execs Are Minting Money.

Also, find out who are the highest paid service provider executives in our earlier Prime Reading: Because They're Worth It?

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

DHagar 8/18/2015 | 6:29:38 PM
Re: Thicker Reed mendyk, I am thinking the same thing.  Before we put him in the "poor house", if the earnings spread mirrors with CBS' Moonves, he is still going to be able to make it.
msilbey 8/18/2015 | 4:56:24 PM
Re: How can they bear it? Much less keep up payments on that villa in Tuscany! It's a rough life. 
Mitch Wagner 8/18/2015 | 3:08:26 PM
How can they bear it? $40 million? $30 million after you throw out the high-end outliers? I'm surprised they can afford to eat with that kind of meager compensation.
[email protected] 8/18/2015 | 1:03:35 PM
Home run... telco execs might want to switch How do these folks compare to the top sports earners?

is Mike Fries better off at Liberty or the Blackhawks or Dodgers?


On a more serious note, not a single woman in the list and the telco folks might be considering switching to the media and/or cable worlds... the numbers, while still obscene, are not in the same league...

Because They're Worth It?

mendyk 8/18/2015 | 9:48:48 AM
Thicker Reed I'm guessing that Mr. Hastings' shares in his company more than made up for the salary difference.
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