Jon Stewart Is TV’s Highest-Paid Host

Jon Stewart Daily Show Salary

Ever wonder who’s raking in the dough on the small screen?

The rankings may surprise you.

According to a report by TV Guide, “The Daily Showhost Jon Stewart is taking home between $25 and $30 million a year, topping broadcast network competitors Jay Leno and David Letterman, who have seen salary cuts in recent years. Ashton Kutcher remains top dog in primetime, securing $750,000 per episode of CBS’s “Two and a Half Men,” though the leads in “Big Bang Theory” are nipping at the thesp’s heels with potential deals that could pay Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco up to a million bucks per seg.

TV Guide’s rankings, based on intel from talent reps, studio and network execs, are as follows:

DRAMA (per episode)
Mark Harmon (NCIS): $525,000 + points
Claire Danes (Homeland): $250,000
Michael Weatherly (NCIS): $250,000
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones): $150,000
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black): $50,000

COMEDY (per episode)
Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men): $750,000
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother): $225,000
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation): $200,000
Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones): $165,000
Max Greenfield (New Girl): $75,000

REALITY
Howard Stern (America’s Got Talent): $15 million per year
Keith Urban (American Idol): $5 million per year
Blake Shelton (The Voice): $4 million per cycle
RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race): $50,000 per episode
Reza Farahan (Shahs of Sunset): $18,000 per episode

LATE NIGHT (per year)
Jon Stewart (The Daily Show): $25-30 million
Jay Leno (The Tonight Show): $20 million
David Letterman (Late Night): $20 million
Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live): $10 million
Andy Cohen (Watch What Happens Live): $2 million

NEWS (per year)
Matt Lauer (NBC): $22-25 million
Rachel Maddow (MSNBC): $7 million
Megyn Kelly (Fox News Channel): $6 million
Scott Pelley (CBS): $5 million
Chris Cuomo (CNN): $2.5 million

DAYTIME/SYNDICATION (per year)
Judy Sheindlin (Judge Judy): $47 million
Katie Couric (Katie): $10 million
Michael Strahan (Live with Kelly and Michael): $4 million
Sharon Osbourne (The Talk): $1 million
Aisha Tyler (The Talk): $500,000

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  1. John Oliver did a great job but it is great to see Jon back! Thx for sharing!

  2. Chaz says:

    Everyone, I don’t think the article says or intends to say that these are each the TOP 5 earners… just that these are 5 examples/samples.

  3. Lori says:

    This could be the dumbest list I’ve ever seen. Is the implication that Peter Dinklage and Tatiana Maslany are making more than Grey’s Anatomy cast? or Bones? or any other long running drama? I find that really difficult to believe. And Max Greenberg more than say Neil Patrick Harris? or even his star, Zooey Deschanel? Please. Seems like this list is more – I heard from this from her hairdresser, or trainer, etc.

  4. Mark Isenberg says:

    CBS has paid big stars big bucks for decades probably even before Jackie Gleason and Caroll O’Connor got enormous salaries so it’s not surprising Mark Harmon as an executive producer earns up to $40 million from NCIS.The major fault remains David Letterman who despite twenty years at CBS earns way too much for being not funny and often rude especially to female guests.

  5. Josie says:

    Unfortunately there has rarely been a correlation between pay and value provided at the higher end of the scale :(

  6. MBK says:

    Rather than lazily rubber-stamping TV Guide’s patently questionable rankings, Variety should conduct professional journalism of its own on this subject. If your objective is to credibly and thoroughly cover issues of legitimate interest to the entertainment community — including compensation for talent — get to work.

  7. cadavra says:

    Per-episode is all well and good, but comparing Harmon, at 22-24 eps per year, with Danes, at 10-12 a year, is somewhat misleading.

    And Michael Strahan, who’s been with “Live” for one year, is making more than Kelly Ripa, who’s been there for 13? If that’s true, the equal-pay situation is worse than we thought!

    • Steve Bowden says:

      If it’s true that Ripa is paid less than Michael, both she and her agent should have a fit. Then demand parity. I’m not sure what the correct response is to such an outrage but if management refused to budge perhaps she should make an announcement briefly describing the situation…and then state categorically that she will serve out the rest of her contract but will not under any circumstances sign a new one with the production company….but perhaps that’s too much drama… hmmmm…I hope this story is in error.
      it seems pretty nasty.

  8. Bill says:

    This is article is terrible, unless you believe Tom Selleck, Ed O’Neil, Tim Allen and scores of other big stars make less than 50K/episode.

  9. Rod says:

    No wonder there are so many commercial breaks on Comedy Central. Someone’s got to pay for Stewart. He’s good but is anyone seriously worth that amount of dough. Colbert is actually a better faux host than Stewart, in my opinion.

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