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Tonight in schadenfreude: Netflix bosses get their pay requests rejected, for once

Netflix shareholders made a rare move to reject multi-million compensation packages for its founder and CEOs,

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Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, presumably in less “No, you can’t have $40 million, there’s a strike on” times.
Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, presumably in less “No, you can’t have $40 million, there’s a strike on” times.
Photo: Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

Tonight in “unexpected comeuppance” news: The guys running Netflix got their knuckles rapped pretty hard this evening, as THR reports that shareholders for the company have taken a rare step and rejected a proposed compensation package for the streamer’s top dogs. Although the shareholder vote, which happened earlier tonight, isn’t binding, it is a pretty potent “Hold the fuck up” to Ted Sarandos, Reed Hastings, and recently installed co-CEO Greg Peters, presumably over the trio’s handling of the WGA’s ongoing writers strike.

It’s not new to note that the men running Netflix make frankly ludicrous sums of money, especially as compared to the people who actually make the films and shows that power the streamer’s success: Co-founder Hastings made roughly $50 million last year in salary and stocks, while Sarandos was expected to make some $40 million in 2023. (Peters, who spearheaded the company’s recent ad-supported tier, and who took Hasting’s old spot at the top last year, was set to make roughly $34 million.) All of which makes for pretty terrible optics as the company wrestles with heavy criticisms of its treatment of creators. The rise of streaming, and the subsequent fall of residuals for writers a) has been a major economic shift in the world of TV writing over the last decade, and b) started, at least in part, at Netflix—and so addressing it is just one of the reasons the WGA is currently on strike.


And making waves: The shareholder vote comes after the WGA issued a request to do exactly this to the company’s shareholders earlier this week, with union president Meredith Stiehm noting that “while investors have long taken issue with Netflix’s executive pay, the compensation structure is even more egregious against the backdrop of the strike.” The voters seem to have agreed.

And, like we said: Hastings, Sarandos, and Peters could just ignore this vote and go on paying themselves their big fat paychecks, but they probably won’t; company leadership previously responded pretty attentively to a similar “no” vote back in 2019. Meanwhile, the WGA has issued a similar request to Comcast’s shareholders ahead of a vote next week; it remains to be seen how screwing with executive-level money will affect the attitudes of the various studio heads as the strike continues—but we can’t imagine it’ll hurt.