The Los Angeles Times put together a fascinating list that reveals who the most overpaid and underpaid television stars working today are. You might be surprised at the results. Basically, the newspaper took the personality’s salary and divided it by the number of viewers to arrive at a dollar figure per viewer, and left us to decide whether he or she is overpaid or underpaid.
Chelsea Handler — who receives $12 million a year and only has 718,000 viewers — ended up at the top of the list as the most overpaid star in television, as she’s being paid $16.70 per viewer (which begs the question: Why would anyone give Chelsea Handler a $12 million contract?). On the other side of the spectrum, Jersey Shore’s Snooki qualifies as one of the most underpaid personalities in television, as she’s being paid about 16 CENTS per viewer, which in my opinion is still more than she’s worth.
You can see the entire list and read more about the methodology at the LA Times, but here are the highlights:
#1 Chelsea Hander: $16.70 per viewer
#2 Anderson Cooper: $13.54 per viewer
#3 David Letterman: $9.54 per viewer
#4 Jon Stewart: $8.24 per viewer
#5 Bill O’Reilly: $5.24 per viewer
#8: Judge Judy: $5.00 per viewer
#11: Stephen Colbert: $3.75 per viewer
#16 Tina Fey: $1.57 per viewer
#18 Ashton Kutcher: $1.16 per viewer
#23: Snooki: $0.16 per viewer
#24: Ty Burrell (Modern Family): $0.08 per viewer
There is some unfairness built into the methodology, as it fails to account for the fact that someone like Jon Stewart — who may only receive 1.7 million viewers — delivers that number of viewers five nights a week. Meanwhile, Snooki — who has over 7 million viewers — delivers them only 15 times a year. A more fair test, perhaps, would be to add up the number of episodes per year, multiply it by the viewers, and then divide it by the salary.
For instance, Jon Stewart tapes 161 times a year. Multiply that by 1.7 million viewers per night and you get 273 million viewers per year. Divide that by his $14 million contract, and he receives roughly one nickel ($0.051) per viewer. That’s less than even Ty Burrell.
(Source: LA Times)