Netflix Co-CEOs Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos Will Each Earn $34M In 2021, Flat With 2020; Executive Pay During Covid Likely To Take Center Stage In Spring When Most Companies Report It

Netflix Co-CEOs Reed Hastings, left, and Ted Sarandos, in 2016. AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File

Chairman and co-CEO Reed Hastings is set to receive $34 million worth of stock options and a salary of $650,000 for 2021, Netflix said in a SEC filing Monday.

Co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who takes less of his compensation in stock, will receive options worth $14 million and a $20 million annual salary.

The total compensation is for both would be about flat from 2020. Sarandos was named co-CEO in July.

Salaries of a company’s top five highest-paid executives are disclosed in annual SEC proxy statements that have not yet been filed for 2020 by companies, including Netflix, that operate on a regular calendar year. Netflix is one of the few that pre-announces option grants. The stock options are awarded fully vested on a monthly basis throughout the year. The 2021 grants will start in January.

A year ago, in December of 2019, Netflix anticipated that Hastings would see total compensation of $36.5 million for 2020  ($650,000 base salary, $34 million in annual stock options) and Sarandos would earn the same from $20 million in salary and $14.6 million in stock options.

Today’s filing is the first glimpse of executive pay during a year marred by a global pandemic. Companies across media and entertainment furloughed and laid off workers and entire businesses shrank, albeit none of that at Netflix which has boosted subscribers and seen its stock jump during the pandemic.

Many top executives during the year opted to forgo or reduce their base salaries for at least part 2020. CEO compensation will be highly scrutinized this spring when most companies release their proxies for 2020 and the actual compensation numbers come out.

Top industry executives are very highly paid on average compared with other sectors. The average compensation for major media and entertainment companies CEOs close to $40 million last year.

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