WWE released its annual proxy statement which provides a number of insights into the company, including compensation for the company's top executives.
Total compensation (not including dividends) for WWE's five named officers for 2016 and 2015 was as follows:
Name Title 2016 2015 Vincent K. McMahon Chairman and CEO $3,071,600 $3,308,998 Michelle D. Wilson Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer $4,317,617 $4,507,801 George A. Barrios Chief Strategy & Financial Officer $4,311,056 $4,494,878 Paul Levesque EVP, Talent, Live Events & Creative $3,993,417 $3,112,624 Kevin Dunn Exec. Prod. & Chief Global TV Prod. $4,637,652 $4,758,170
Vince McMahon actually makes far more in dividends related to his ownership of the company. He currently owns 35.5 million shares (46% of all WWE shares), which pay a quarterly dividend of 12 cents per share. So Vince made about $17.7 million in dividends alone in 2016.
WWE's Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon earned approximately $2.0 million in total compensation in 2016. Stephanie also holds a large amount of stock, 1.9 million shares, which paid about $914,000 for the year.
Shane McMahon, who holds no corporate position in the company and is contracted only as a performer, was paid $2.15 million in 2016 for his services as on-air talent. Shane holds little or no WWE stock.
Linda McMahon solely owns 566,770 shares, which yielded dividends of $272,000 for the year. Linda is currently the administrator of the Small Business Administration for the White House and holds no official position in WWE.
"Triple H" Paul Levesque's compensation referenced above includes his pay as on-air talent. As a performer, Levesque has a "minimum guaranteed annual payment" (also known as a "downside") of $1 million. Levesque looks to have made about $2.4 million total for his role as talent, which includes payments toward his downside, additional performance fees and royalties. Not counted in the table above, he also would've made an additional $30,804 on the 64,174 shares the proxy statement says he owns.
Compensation for corporate executives is determined by a complex incentive program associated with pre-defined goals. The degree to which those goals are met are reviewed by WWE's Board of Director's Compensation Committee. Goals for 2016 were outlined as follows:
(Source: WWE Proxy Statement 2016, p. 22)
Executives were rewarded for growing the WWE Network based on average hours consumed per subscriber rather than on purely growing subscribers, the latter of which is the more direct driver of revenue.
On the "Brand Strength" objective, it's unclear what "certain television ratings" might mean. TV ratings for SmackDown in 2016 increased while RAW ratings declined.
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