Netflix shareholders back striking writers and reject executive pay


Netflix shareholders rejected the company’s pay packages for top executives in a rare move on Thursday after striking Hollywood writers urged them to vote against the plans.

Netflix held its annual shareholder meeting on June 1, during which a non-binding “say on pay” vote was held, which sought approval for huge pay offerings for top executives including co-CEO Ted Sarandos, new co-CEO Greg Peters, and executive chairman and former CEO Reed Hastings.

Sarandos and Peters will each be paid annual salaries of $3 million by Netflix this year, Variety reported. Sarandos will also be paid $20 million in stock, and has the potential to earn a bonus worth up to $17 million. Peters will receive $17.3 million in stock as well as up to $14.3 million in bonuses.

Hastings, meanwhile, will reportedly be paid a $500,000 salary and $2.5 million in stock this year after giving up the top job.

Shareholders withheld support for the 2023 executive compensation packages, however, backing calls from striking writers to vote down the proposals.

It is not yet clear how much the vote failed by, with the final tally to be included in an upcoming SEC filing.

The result came just days after WGA West president Meredith Stiehm wrote an open letter to Netflix shareholders to urge they vote against the looming “say on pay” vote. She argued that approving the executive pay deals would be inappropriate in light of the ongoing situation.

“While investors have long taken issue with Netflix’s executive pay, the compensation structure is more egregious against the backdrop of the strike,” she wrote.  

“Shareholders should send a message to Netflix that if the company could afford to spend $166 million on executive compensation last year, it can afford to pay the estimated $68 million per year that writers are asking for in contract improvements and put an end to the disruptive strike,” she added, while noting that the company’s content pipeline was blocked until negotiations with the WGA were settled.

Stiehm also wrote a similar letter to shareholders of Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal. Comcast is scheduled to hold its own shareholder meeting on June 7.

Spokespeople for Netflix and the WGA were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune.

Members of the Writers Guild of America, who write and produce some of the world’s biggest movies and television shows, have been on strike for five weeks over pay and streaming services’ use of smaller writing staffs.  

Even before the writers’ strike, Netflix was struggling to secure approval for huge compensation deals it wanted to offer its senior leaders.

At last year’s shareholder meeting, only 27% of shareholders backed Netflix’s executive compensation plan. Top executives at the firm saw their compensation jump in 2022 from a year earlier.

Comparatively, in 2021, more than half of shareholders approved the deals offered to top executive officers at Netflix.

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