It’s about Judge Judy.
Gets really interesting when you get to the part about how many people watch it and who they are and when they watch and how they’re targeted by marketers.
Think about what’s not being said.
But if we were to say, “keep ’em barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen” we’d be hung in the town square by the feminist harpies.
“Many people, as I did in the beginning, get stuck with a job they don’t really like. … If you’re not doing something that you love to do, find something that you love to do, because it will make your whole life different,” Sheindlin said at 2017’s Forbes Women’s Summit. With a nine-figure check, it’s no surprise she loves her job.
The sharp-talking daytime judge takes the top spot thanks to her even sharper deal-making skills: Last year she sold the rights to her Judge Judy’s 5,200-episode library, as well as future episodes of the show, to CBS for an estimated $100 million. Between that paycheck and the $47 million she gets for hosting Judge Judy and producing Hot Bench, Sheindlin took in triple her typical annual paycheck. With that added to her bank account, she also became 48th-richest self-made woman in America, with a net worth of $400 million.
Like Sheindlin, all of the members of the list host daytime television shows. While nighttime cable news hosts like Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow may get more media attention, daytime broadcast series boast the eyeballs—and thus pay the big money. Judge Judy consistently garners more than 10 million daily viewers in its 23rd season, while Dr. Phil, hosted by Phil McGraw, garners nearly 4 million viewers. To compare, Fox News’ Sean Hannity only averages 3.3 million, while MSNBC’s Maddow averages 2.9 million. To make matters even more lucrative, daytime shows tend to attract the 18- to 49-year-old women on whom advertisers spend most of their money. It’s thanks to these high ratings that star hosts can negotiate such favorable deals with their networks or production houses. While Judy took the route of negotiating to own her entire library of intellectual property, Ellen DeGeneres and McGraw have each made shrewd business deals that allow them to reap more than half of the profits their shows bring in from advertising, product placement and carrying fees.
Because it takes so long to build such a loyal, large audience, it isn’t surprising that the list of Highest-Paid Talk Show Hosts does not vary much year-to-year. Still, new gigs can lead to a pretty big cash jump. Ryan Seacrest, who hosts Live with Kelly and Ryan, saw his earnings leap from $58 million to $74 million this year thanks to his eight-figure check for hosting the revived American Idol. DeGeneres’ income also climbed thanks to a $20 million check from Netflix for a single stand-up special.