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A closer look at the boards of U.S. media companies

March 21, 2017 | By Tim Bourgeois — Digital Media Auditor and Consultant @ChiefDigOfficer

Media companies of all stripes – newspapers, video game makers, TV networks, etc. – are working furiously to navigate the choppy digital transformation waters successfully. At their helm are boards of directors tasked with steering these corporations through safely and prosperously.  For the first time, executive recruiter Spencer Stuart recently published the U.S. Media Board Index 2016, a study analyzing the latest data and trends in board composition, board practices and director compensation for 50 U.S. media companies.

The report highlights the latest data and trends in board composition, board practices and director compensation for 50 U.S. media companies (Media 50). Companies included in the analysis span household brands (Comcast, CBS, Disney, NYT), digital stalwarts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo!) and old school publishing stalwarts (Gannett, Houghton Mifflin, Meredith, Time). The report also examines how media companies compare to the broader S&P 500 Index and the U.S. Technology Board Index.

Here are the highlights of the study.

  • The total average per-director compensation for media company directors is $277,788. Half of the total compensation comes in stocks, 30% in cash, and the rest in options and miscellaneous. Eight companies topped the $300,000 total compensation mark last year: Activision Blizzard, Alphabet, CBS, Electronic Arts, Facebook, IAC, LinkedIn, and Yahoo!. Alphabet was the only company that exceeded the $400,000 threshold ($425,000).
  • Most media boards (44 of 50) pay a cash retainer, and the average amount is $74,386. Time Warner pays the most ($145,000), with Disney in second at $105,000. Nine companies pay $100,000. Five companies pay no cash retainer, and five pay less than $50,000 annually.
  • 46 of the 50 media boards have at least one female director. Tenga (5), Viacom (4), and New York Times (4) lead the pack, with another eight companies at three female board members each. Charter Communications, New Media Investment Group, and Sinclair Broadcast Group have zero female board members.
  • Media boards are younger than their technology and S&P 500 company counterparts. 44% of media boards have an average age of 59 or younger, compared with only 15% of S&P 500 boards and 27% of tech boards.

Tim Bourgeois (@ChiefDigOfficer) is a partner at East Coast Catalyst, a Boston-based digital consulting company specializing in strategic roadmaps, digital marketing audits, and online marketing optimization programs.

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