Bloomberg Law
April 27, 2021, 9:31 AMUpdated: April 27, 2021, 3:39 PM

Netflix, Comcast Legal Heads Earn $20 Million Collectively (1)

Brian Baxter
Brian Baxter

Netflix Inc. and Comcast Corp., two of the largest U.S. media companies, collectively gave almost $20 million in total compensation last year to their top lawyers.

David Hyman, Netflix’s chief legal officer and corporate secretary since 2002, received nearly $10.5 million in total compensation, a 28% increase from 2019.

Thomas Reid, hired by Comcast in 2019 to be its chief legal officer and corporate secretary from his role as chairman and managing partner of the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, had a nearly $9.3 million pay package.

The disclosures, made by both media giants in their annual proxy statements filed April 23, follow similar disbursements to law department leaders at other major entertainment companies. Those include billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActivCorp, which noted earlier this month that its former legal chief Gregg Winiarski received more than $22 million in total compensation during 2020.

Comcast, which has reshuffled its legal and regulatory ranks within the past year, said in its proxy that it paid nearly $1.6 million in base salary to Reid. The former Davis Polk partner also received nearly $4.5 million in stock and option awards and almost $3.2 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation.

Reid, whose employment contract with Comcast runs through Dec. 31, 2023, had not previously been listed as among the Philadelphia-based company’s top paid executives. Comcast credited Reid in its proxy with leading its legal group to “several successes” last year.

Those include overseeing Comcast’s government, political, and external affairs functions at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as counseling the company and its various businesses on the “successful navigation of unique challenges in the face of the pandemic and the 2020 electoral season.”

Reid, who was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, also leads Comcast’s legal diversity, equity, and inclusion and pro bono initiatives, the company said. He was replaced as Davis Polk’s leader by partner Neil Barr. Davis Polk, in a move that shook up Big Law, moved last year to a modified lockstep compensation system.

Netflix said in its proxy statement that it gave a $2 million raise last year to Hyman due to his “performance in managing and developing a global legal and public policy function” at the Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming media and production company.

Hyman had almost $8.2 million in total compensation during 2019. The nearly $10.5 million pay package that Hyman received from Netflix last year is comprised of $5.5 million in base salary and about $5 million in option awards.

Netflix announced last week that while it enjoyed record growth during the coronavirus pandemic, it was hit hard during the first quarter of this year as the number of subscribers signing up for its platform slowed. Bloomberg data shows that Hyman currently owns roughly $16.1 million in Netflix stock.

IAC’s Winiarski resigned Dec. 31 after 16 years at the New York-based media conglomerate to make way for in-house successor Kendall Handler, a former associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. IAC told Bloomberg Law that a $13.5 million restricted stock award given to Winiarski will vest over five years.

Mark Stein, a former Weil, Gotshal & Manges lawyer now serving as IAC’s chief strategy officer, received the same $13.5 million stock award for a total pay package of $21.8 million last year. IAC’s proxy also lists option awards for Stein and Winiarski valued at $4.9 million and $4.4 million, respectively.

IAC, which last summer separated from dating app owner Match Group Inc., noted the option awards reflect accounting charges related to the separation and are “not reflective of cost to IAC nor additional benefit to the recipient.”

As a result, IAC said that Stein and Winiarski’s total 2020 compensation was less than stated, although those book valuations would still nearly equate to the more than $4 million that each lawyer earned from the company in 2019.

Winiarski earned a $500,000 base salary and $2.5 million bonus from IAC in 2020, while Stein’s base salary was $550,000 with a bonus of almost $1.8 million. Handler’s compensation from IAC wasn’t listed in the company’s proxy. Winiarski currently owns almost $12 million in IAC stock, per Bloomberg data.

The disclosures by IAC, Netflix, and Comcast come on the heels of proxy statements by other media titans unveiling the pay for their own law department leaders.

ViacomCBS Inc. disclosed in early April that it paid more than $12.7 million in total compensation last year to three top lawyers, while telecommunications giant AT&T Inc. revealed an $18.6 million pay package in March for its legal chief David McAtee.

Bloomberg Law reported in January that longtime Walt Disney Co. general counsel Alan Braverman took a 34% pay cut last year as his total compensation fell to $9.2 million. Meanwhile, Apple Inc. general counsel Katherine Adams, Inc. general counsel David Zapolsky, and Twitter Inc. chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde all received remuneration of between $7 million and $26 million last year.

(Clarifies Winiarski's pay package in 12th and 15th paragraphs.)

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John Hughes in Washington at