Jason Kilar

Photographer: Kimimasa Mayama/Bloomberg 

Jason Kilar, head of

AT&T Inc.s WarnerMedia division, was paid $52.2 million in total compensation last year, more than twice what the phone companys chief executive officer received.

The bulk of his pay took the form of $49.2 million in stock awards, according to a filing Thursday. His salary amounted to $1.67 million, and he also received $1.26 million as part of a cash incentive program.

The package vaults Kilar to the top ranks of executive pay in media and entertainment, and underscores AT&Ts ambitions in streaming. Kilar is tasked with turning WarnerMedia into an online powerhouse that can compete with Netflix Inc. and Walt Disney Co. Since overseeing the launch of the HBO Max streaming platform in May, Kilar made the controversial decision to release the companys entire movie slate online at the same time that the films hit theaters.

Kilar, a veteran of Hulu and Amazon.com Inc., was brought on in April of last year, just ahead of the HBO Max launch. The 49-year-old also presided over an overhaul of the WarnerMedia operation, leading to thousands of job cuts. Major media companies have all restructured in recent months in response to the growth of streaming, the Covid-19 pandemic, tumbling pay-TV subscriptions and sluggish ad sales.

AT&T has made WarnerMedia and HBO Max a cornerstone of its efforts to expand its wireless business with a slate of popular entertainment options. HBO Max and HBO had over 41 million subscribers combined at the end of the fourth quarter. Of that number, 17.2 million people had activated their HBO Max accounts.

Kilars pay compares with a total of $21 million for CEO John Stankey, who ascended to the top job last July after a career at the telecom company. Stankeys salary came to $2.05 million — more than Kilars — but he only received $13.5 million in stock awards.

Stankey wasnt even the second-highest-paid executive at AT&T last year. The company paid $29.2 million last year to former chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. His pay included a $900,000 salary, $21 million in stock awards and a $2.25 million in cash incentive pay.

AT&T acquired WarnerMedia, previously known as Time Warner, in 2018. The deal turned the telecom company into a media conglomerate — with the Warner Bros. studio, cable networks such as CNN and TBS, and DC Comics all under its roof.

(Updates with former chairmans pay in second-to-last paragraph.)

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