Salary Survey 2017: A look at who makes what in TV

The explosion of demand for high-end TV series and the emergence of deep-pocketed new buyers such as Netflix and Amazon has been an enormous windfall for marquee talent. Just ask Robert De Niro, or David Letterman, or Katy Perry.

Stars with brand names are more in demand than ever as dozens of competing outlets search for anything that will help a show stand out from the pack. The new business models that govern streaming services have also had the effect of raising upfront payments to top talent because traditional forms of generating a profit from a hit series — through international sales and off-network syndication — are no longer an option.

34 PHOTOS
The highest-paid TV drama stars
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The highest-paid TV drama stars

Claire Foy

Show: “The Crown” (Netflix)

Salary: $40,000

Photo credit: Getty 

Chrissy Metz

Show: “This Is Us” (NBC)

Salary: $40,000

Photo credit: Getty

Justin Hartley

Show: “This Is Us” (NBC)

Salary: $40,000

Photo credit: Getty

Sterling K. Brown

Show: “This Is Us” (NBC)

Salary: $75,000

Photo credit: Getty

Milo Ventimiglia

Show: “This Is Us” (NBC)

Salary: $85,000

Photo credit: Getty

Mandy Moore

Show: “This Is Us” (NBC)

Salary: $85,000

Photo credit: Getty

Sam Heughan

Show: “Outlander” (Starz)

Salary: $100,000

Photo credit: Getty

Caitriona Balfe

Show: “Outlander” (Starz)

Salary: $100,000

Photo credit: Getty

Jonathan Banks

Show: “Better Call Saul” (AMC)

Salary: $100,000

Photo credit: Getty

Michael Weatherly

Show: “Bull” (CBS)

Salary: $175,000

Photo credit: Getty

Michael Weatherly

Show: “Bull” (CBS)

Salary: $175,000

Photo credit: Getty

Elisabeth Moss

Show: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Salary: $200,000

Photo credit: Getty

Elisabeth Moss

Show: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Salary: $200,000

Photo credit: Getty

Kerry Washington

Show: “Scandal” (ABC)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Getty

James Spader

Show: “The Blacklist” (NBC)

Salary: $300,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Kiefer Sutherland

Show: “Designated Survivor” (ABC)

Salary: $300,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Anthony Hopkins

Show: “Westworld” (HBO)

Salary: $300,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Laura Linney

Show: “Ozark” (Netflix)

Salary: $300,000

Photo credit: Getty

Jason Bateman

Show: “Ozark” (Netflix)

Salary: $300,000

Photo credit: Getty

Billy Bob Thornton

Show: “Goliath” (Amazon)

Salary: $350,000

Photo credit: Getty

Emmy Rossum

Show: “Shameless” (Showtime)

Salary: $350,000

Photo credit: Getty

William H. Macy

Show: “Shameless” (Showtime)

Salary: $350,000

Photo credit: Getty

Ellen Pompeo

Show: “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC)

Salary: $450,000

Photo credit: Getty

Claire Danes

Show: “Homeland” (Showtime)

Salary: $450,000

Photo credit: Getty

Kevin Spacey

Show: “House of Cards” (Netflix)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Kevin Costner

Show: “Yellowstone” (Paramount Network)

Salary: $500,000 

Photo credit: Getty

Lena Headey

Show: “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Kit Harington

Show: “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Peter Dinklage

Show: "Game of Thrones” (HBO)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Show: “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Emilia Clarke

Show: “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

Salary: $500,000 

Photo credit: Getty

Mark Harmon

Show: “NCIS” (CBS)

Salary: $525,000 

Photo credit: Getty

Robert De Niro

Show: Untitled Amazon Project

Salary: $775,000

Photo credit: Getty

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Among the winners in the past year on the drama side were Robert De Niro, who is in line to receive an eye-popping $775,00 per episode for the untitled Amazon drama series from director David O. Russell. Other big gainers include “Shameless” stars Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy and the “Ozark” duo of Jason Bateman and Laura Linney.

On the flip side, lesser-known actors such as Jason Hartley and Chrissy Metz started out with modest (by comparison) episodic fees for the first season of “This Is Us,” although they are surely poised to add more zeroes in the future. Claire Foy has been collecting awards and praise for her work as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s “The Crown,” but her Season 1 episodic fee reflects the markedly lower pay scales for British productions.

Here’s a sampling of estimates for the paychecks banked by some of TV’s most notable stars. In some cases, the per episode fees reflect additional compensation for their work as producers or for their profit participation stakes.

DRAMA
ACTORSHOW/NETWORKPer-Episode Estimate
Robert De NiroUntitled/Amazon$775,000
Mark HarmonNCIS/CBS$525,000
Emilia ClarkeGame of Thrones/HBO$500,000
Nikolaj Coster-WaldauGame of Thrones/HBO$500,000
Peter DinklageGame of Thrones/HBO$500,000
Kit HaringtonGame of Thrones/HBO$500,000
Lena HeadeyGame of Thrones/HBO$500,000
Kevin CostnerYellowstone/Par$500,000
Kevin SpaceyHouse of Cards/Netflix$500,000
Claire DanesHomeland/Showtime$450,000
Ellen PompeoGrey’s Anatomy/ABC$450,000
William H. MacyShameless/Showtime$350,000
Emmy RossumShameless/Showtime$350,000
Billy Bob ThorntonGoliath/Amazon$350,000
Jason BatemanOzark/Netflix$300,000
Laura LinneyOzark/Netflix$300,000
Anthony HopkinsWestworld/HBO$300,000
Kiefer SutherlandDesignated Survivor/ABC$300,000
James SpaderThe Blacklist/NBC$300,000
Kerry WashingtonScandal/ABC$250,000
Elisabeth MossThe Handmaid’s Tale/Hulu$200,000
Jeffrey DonovanShut Eye/Hulu$175,000
Michael WeatherlyBull/CBS$175,000
Bob OdenkirkBetter Call Saul/AMC$150,000
Caitriona BalfeOutlander/Starz$100,000
Jonathan BanksBetter Call Saul/AMC$100,000
Sam HeughanOutlander/Starz$100,000
Mandy MooreThis Is Us/NBC$85,000
Milo VentimigliaThis Is Us/NBC$85,000
Sterling K. BrownThis Is Us/NBC$75,000
Claire FoyThe Crown/Netflix$40,000
Justin HartleyThis Is Us/NBC$40,000
Chrissy MetzThis Is Us/NBC$40,000
Note: Some of these figures include fees for producing and back-end compensation.
 

34 PHOTOS
A look at TV's highest-paid comedy stars
See Gallery
A look at TV's highest-paid comedy stars

Donald Glover

Show: 'Atlanta' (FX)

Salary: $75,000 

Photo credit: Getty

Tituss Burgess

Show: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' (Netflix)

Salary: $90,000

Photo credit: Getty

Sela Ward

Show: 'Graves' (Epix)

Salary: $125,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Adam Scott

Show: 'Ghosted' (Fox)

Salary: $125,000

Photo credit: Getty

Craig Robinson

Show: 'Ghosted' (Fox)

Salary: $125,000

Photo credit: Getty

Leah Remini

Show: 'Kevin Can Wait' (CBS)

Salary: $125,000

Photo credit: Getty 

Nick Nolte

Show: 'Graves' (Epix)

Salary: $125,000

Photo credit: Getty 

Ellie Kemper

Show: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' (Netflix)

Salary: $150,000

Photo credit: Getty

Matt LeBlanc

Show: 'Man With a Plan' (CBS)

Salary: $200,000

Photo credit: Getty

Kevin James

Show: 'Kevin Can Wait' (CBS)

Salary: $200,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Megan Mullally

Show: 'Will & Grace' (NBC)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Debra Messing

Show: 'Will & Grace' (NBC)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Eric McCormack

Show: 'Will & Grace' (NBC)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Show: 'Veep' (HBO)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Patricia Heaton

Show: 'The Middle' (ABC)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Getty

Sean P. Hayes

Show: 'Will & Grace' (NBC)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Getty 

John Goodman

Show: 'Roseanne' (ABC)

Salary: $250,000 

Photo credit: Reuters 

Roseanne Barr

Show: 'Roseanne' (ABC)

Salary: $250,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Jeffrey Tambor

Show: 'Transparent' (Amazon)

Salary: $275,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Sofia Vergara

Show: 'Modern Family' (ABC)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Eric Stonestreet

Show: 'Modern Family' (ABC)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Melissa Rauch

Show: 'The Big Bang Theory' (CBS)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Ed O’Neill

Show: 'Modern Family' (ABC)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Show: 'Modern Family' (ABC)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Ty Burrell

Show: 'Modern Family' (ABC)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Julie Bowen

Show: 'Modern Family' (ABC)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Mayim Bialik

Show: 'The Big Bang Theory' (CBS)

Salary: $500,000

Photo credit: Getty

Dwayne Johnson

Show: 'Ballers' (HBO)

Salary: $650,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Jim Parsons

Show: 'The Big Bang Theory' (CBS)

Salary: $900,000

Photo credit: Reuters 

Kunal Nayyar

Show: 'The Big Bang Theory' (CBS)

Salary: $900,000

Photo credit: Getty

Simon Helberg

Show: 'The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)

Salary: $900,000

Photo credit: Getty

Johnny Galecki

Show: 'The Big Bang Theory' (CBS)

Salary: $900,000

Photo credit: Getty

Kaley Cuoco

Show: 'The Big Bang Theory' (CBS)

Salary: $900,000

Photo credit: Getty

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It’s good to be Dwayne Johnson. The versatile superstar has become one of TV’s highest-paid comedy players thanks to the success of HBO’s “Ballers.” Meanwhile, Donald Glover is betting on the long-tail theory with his FX series “Atlanta,” agreeing to more modest fees upfront in exchange for a larger share of the backend.

The “Will & Grace” quartet of Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean P. Hayes are back in the top echelon for the NBC revival series. The “Modern Family” and “Big Bang Theory” troupes had high-profile contract negotiations that plumped some paychecks. But it’s not all about the money. The original five stars of “Big Bang” agreed to slight pay cuts to help fund raises for their co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

COMEDY
ACTORSHOW/NETWORKPer-Episode Estimate
Kaley CuocoThe Big Bang Theory/CBS$900,000
Johnny GaleckiThe Big Bang Theory/CBS$900,000
Simon HelbergThe Big Bang Theory/CBS$900,000
Kunal NayyarThe Big Bang Theory/CBS$900,000
Jim ParsonsThe Big Bang Theory/CBS$900,000
Dwayne JohnsonBallers/HBO$650,000
Mayim BialikThe Big Bang Theory/CBS$500,000
Julie BowenModern Family/ABC$500,000
Ty BurrellModern Family/ABC$500,000
Jesse Tyler FergusonModern Family/ABC$500,000
Ed O’NeillModern Family/ABC$500,000
Melissa RauchThe Big Bang Theory/CBS$500,000
Eric StonestreetModern Family/ABC$500,000
Sofia VergaraModern Family/ABC$500,000
Jeffrey TamborTransparent/Amazon$275,000
Roseanne BarrRoseanne/ABC$250,000
John GoodmanRoseanne/ABC$250,000
Sean P. HayesWill & Grace/NBC$250,000
Patricia HeatonThe Middle/ABC$250,000
Julia Louis-DreyfusVeep/HBO$250,000
Eric McCormackWill & Grace/NBC$250,000
Debra MessingWill & Grace/NBC$250,000
Megan MullallyWill & Grace/NBC$250,000
Kevin JamesKevin Can Wait/CBS$200,000
Matt LeBlancMan With a Plan/CBS$200,000
Ellie KemperUnbreakable Kimmy … /Netflix$150,000
Nick NolteGraves/Epix$125,000
Leah ReminiKevin Can Wait/CBS$125,000
Craig RobinsonGhosted/Fox$125,000
Adam ScottGhosted/Fox$125,000
Sela WardGraves/Epix$125,000
Tituss BurgessUnbreakable Kimmy … /Netflix$90,000
Donald GloverAtlanta/FX$75,000
 

How badly did Netflix want David Letterman on its platform? Enough to pay him an estimated $2 million per episode for a six-episode commitment for an in-depth interview series. That number has sent jaws dropping throughout the unscripted TV community. So did Katy Perry’s deal to preside as a judge over ABC’s new iteration of “American Idol.” Nevertheless, it’s two daytime syndication stars who pace the race for big paychecks among reality, news and host talent. DeGeneres has seen her salary and profit participation on “Ellen” soar in recent years. “Judge Judy” boss Judith Sheindlin is right behind her, and she stands to reap another eight-figure check this year on the sale of the show’s library to CBS.

REALITY/NEWS/HOST
ACTORSHOW/NETWORKANNUAL SALARY ESTIMATE
Ellen DeGeneresThe Ellen DeGeneres Show /Syndicated$50m
Judith SheindlinJudge Judy/Syndicated$47m
Matt LauerToday/NBC$25m
Katy PerryAmerican Idol/ABC$25m
Kelly RipaLive With Kelly & Ryan/Syndicated$22m
Megyn KellyNBC News$18m
Robin RobertsGood Morning America/ABC$18m
Jimmy FallonThe Tonight Show/NBC$16m
Stephen ColbertThe Late Show/CBS$15m
Jimmy KimmelJimmy Kimmel Live/ABC$15m
Pat SajakWheel of Fortune/Syndicated$15m
Ryan SeacrestLive With Kelly & Ryan/Syndicated$15m
George StephanopoulosABC News$15m
Anderson CooperCNN$12m
David LettermanUntitled interview show/Netflix*$12m
Conan O’BrienConan/TBS$12m
Ryan SeacrestAmerican Idol/ABC$12m
Alec BaldwinMatch Game/ABC$3m
Jamie FoxxBeat Shazam/Fox$3m
Mike MyersThe Gong Show/ABC$3m
   
Note: Some of these figures include fees for producing and back-end compensation.
*Netflix has ordered six episodes of the series
 

(Pictured: Dwayne Johnson, Robert De Niro, Emilia Clarke and David Letterman)

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