AT&T’s Media Boss Makes $52.2 Million, More Than Its CEO
(Bloomberg) -- Jason Kilar, head of AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia division, received $52.2 million in total reported compensation last year, more than twice the level of the phone company’s chief executive officer.
The bulk of his pay took the form of $49.2 million in stock awards, according to a filing Thursday. The awards vest over a four-year period and are expected to yield about $12 million a year -- though it will depend on AT&T’s stock performance. His salary amounted to $1.67 million, and he also received $1.26 million as part of a cash incentive program.
The package vaults Kilar to the top ranks of executive pay in media and entertainment, and underscores AT&T’s ambitions in streaming. Kilar is tasked with turning WarnerMedia into an online powerhouse that can compete with Netflix Inc. and Walt Disney Co. Since overseeing the launch of the HBO Max streaming platform in May, Kilar made the controversial decision to release the company’s entire movie slate online at the same time that the films hit theaters.
Kilar, a veteran of Hulu and Amazon.com Inc., was brought on in April of last year, just ahead of the HBO Max launch. The 49-year-old also presided over an overhaul of the WarnerMedia operation, leading to thousands of job cuts. Major media companies have all restructured in recent months in response to the growth of streaming, the Covid-19 pandemic, tumbling pay-TV subscriptions and sluggish ad sales.
AT&T has made WarnerMedia and HBO Max a cornerstone of its efforts to expand its wireless business with a slate of popular entertainment options. HBO Max and HBO had over 41 million subscribers combined at the end of the fourth quarter. Of that number, 17.2 million people had activated their HBO Max accounts.
Kilar’s pay compares with a total of $21 million for CEO John Stankey, who ascended to the top job last July after a career at the telecom company. Stankey’s salary came to $2.05 million -- more than Kilar’s -- but he only received $13.5 million in stock awards.
Stankey wasn’t even the second-highest-paid executive at AT&T last year. The company paid $29.2 million last year to former chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. His pay included a $900,000 salary, $21 million in stock awards and a $2.25 million in cash incentive pay.
AT&T acquired WarnerMedia, previously known as Time Warner, in 2018. The deal turned the telecom company into a media conglomerate -- with the Warner Bros. studio, cable networks such as CNN and TBS, and DC Comics all under its roof.
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