David Zaslav, who helped orchestrate the $14.6 billion merger of Discovery and Scripps Networks earlier this year, will stay at the head of the combined company through 2023, Discovery revealed Wednesday. The executive, who has been at the helm of Discovery since 2007, had previously been on a contract slated to expire in 2020.
Discovery said the contact extension “provides ongoing management continuity and stability and ensures Zaslav’s continued leadership for the next five and a half years.”
The decision will keep the former NBCUniversal executive in place while the company is in the midst of some of his biggest initiatives to date. As part of TV’s annual “upfront” negotiations, Discovery has been pressing advertisers for better pricing for commercial inventory across its networks, including outlets like Discovery ID; the Scripps outlets have historically enjoyed higher pricing than their new sibling cable networks. Discovery is also assembling a growing sports-rights portfolio, recently signing a deal with the PGA Tour to create an international golf operation that would put the organization’s golf matches on TV outlets outside the U.S.. Discovery already has rights to air the Olympics in Europe.
Zaslav’s base salary will remain at $3 million per year. His target bonus will remain at $9 million for 2018 and then could rise to as much as $22 million per year for the remainder of the term, according to a filing Discovery made Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
“This multi-year commitment affirms our confidence in David’s leadership,” said Robert Miron, chairman of Discovery’s board of directors, in a prepared statement.
Liberty Media chairman John Malone, who owns a significant stake in Discovery, hailed Zaslav’s “masterful job” of leading Discovery for the past decade.
“He is a visionary, a strategic builder and all around great guy,” Malone said. “Under David’s leadership, Discovery has scaled new heights becoming the leader in sports across Europe, building the leading global IP portfolio of high quality content, and positioning Discovery for continued global growth. We are lucky to have him.”
Zaslav’s new term of employment is slated to last through Dec. 31, 2023, The executive has committed to hold the majority of his equity from stock grants to term, the company said.
“I am confident our brand strength, global platform and marketplace differentiation will ensure that Discovery continues to grow and deliver value to our viewers, partners and shareholders for many years to come,” Zaslav said.