They have won the hearts of television audiences the world over, whether with their empathy and advice, their onscreen charisma or their biting remarks. The top earning television personalities of our times earn in millions. While Oprah Winfrey leads the pack with annual earnings of a whopping $290 million, Simon Cowell comes in second, followed by Dr. Phil McGraw, Ryan Seacrest and Donald Trump. Who else made it to the big league of TV personalities? Have a look.
1. Oprah Winfrey
Earnings: $290 million
At $290 million, Oprah Winfrey is miles ahead of other top-earning television personalities. Even runner-up Simon Cowell trails at $90 million. Winfrey’s hugely popular and long-running syndicated show may have wound down to the dismay of ardent fans of The Oprah Winfrey Show, but the talk show host continues to make millions. Winfrey is currently putting all her efforts into her new cable network, OWN. One of the more popular shows on this network is The Judds, which follows the journey of a mother-daughter country music team. However, unappealing ratings have already ensured that chief executive Christina Norman is on her way out. It may take a few years for OWN to start churning the moolah. But Winfrey continues to earn from the shows of protégés like Dr Phil McGraw, Dr Oz and others.
2. Simon Cowell
Earnings: $90 million
Simon Cowell’s voluntary exit from popular musical reality show American Idol has left a void. However, fans need not remain bereft of his cutting remarks for too much longer. Cowell will soon be back on American television with the US version of popular British show The X Factor, this fall season. Moreover, Cowell has convinced former Idol judge Paula Abdul to join him on the new show. The X Factor format allows solo and group performances from contestants over the age of 12.
3. Dr. Phil McGraw
Earnings: $80 million
This clinical psychologist and self-help guru is an Oprah Winfrey discovery. The former legal consultant had his first taste of television stardom when Winfrey hired him back in 1995. He appeared regularly on the Oprah Winfrey Show, followed it up by writing a number of bestselling self-help books. In 2002, he got his big chance – a syndicated talk show. Since then, he has also come to be associated with The Doctors, a similar show that is produced by his son Jay.
4. Ryan Seacrest
Earnings: $61 million
Ryan Seacrest has his finger in so many pies that you can’t help but wonder: Does he never tire? The popular host of American Idol also hosts E News and the American Top 40 countdown on radio. In fact, his earnings have grown by 20 percent over the last 12 months. His deal with Clear Channel Radio works out to $20 million a year. Meanwhile, American Idol parent company CKX and Comcast Entertainment Group each pay him $15 million annually. But Seacrest also does endorsements for Bing, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble even while producing Keeping Up With The Kardashians on E. As if that was not enough, he is also planning to start his own cable network.
5. Donald Trump
Earnings: $60 million
This monied mogul may have started out in the real estate business, but he has gone on to become a popular television personality. He has put his multimillion-dollar name on highrise buildings, casinos, golf courses and even bottled water and neckties. The Apprentice may have lost out on much of its initial popularity, but why should that stop Donald Trump from continuing to rake in the millions?
6. Bethanny Frankel
Earnings: $55 million
The reality show superstar has made a name for herself on television. Few others hold the distinction of launching a new brand entirely on camera. In March 2011, Bethanny Frankel inked a $100 million deal with Fortune Brand’s Beam Global for Skinnygirl Cocktails. However, this sharp lady has some more tricks and treats up her dainty sleeves. In the coming months, watch out for new offerings from Frankel, including sodas, foods, children’s apparel and even a daytime talk show.
7. Ellen Degeneres
Earnings: $45 million
The Ellen Degeneres show is hugely popular on the daytime talk show slot. Moreover, the top earning host of this television talk show has also been associated with a range of big brands like American Express, CoverGirl and Vitamin Water. But it appears that this funny woman has her sights set on more prizes. Recently, Degeneres launched her own record label, eleveneleven. The first artists to be signed on by eleveneleven are Jessica Simpson and 12-year-old YouTube sensation Greyson Chance. It is well known that Degeneres has a soft corner for animals. She has turned this love into a money-spinner by acquiring equity in Halo Purely For Pets, an organic pet food line.
8. David Letterman
Earnings: $45 million
David Letterman is no longer the television giant he used to be. TV ratings for his CBS Late Show have dropped by 10 percent. Letterman currently runs second to Jay Leno. However, that should not affect this television personalities annual earnings. Letterman is the owner of his own show and his production company draws big bucks running into millions of dollars from The Late Late Show With Craig Fergusen and reruns of the popular sitcom Everbody Loves Raymond.
9. Judge Judy Sheindlin
Earnings: $45 million
When it comes to day-time television, Judge Judy Sheindlin is hard to beat. But this television personality is not content with merely ruling the TRPs. She is also a published author. Her first book was “Don’t Pee On My Leg And Tell Me It’s Raining”.
10. Glenn Beck
Earnings: $40 million
This bestselling author was an established name hosting a conservative radio talk show, when he jumped into the big league in 2009. His move to Fox News Channel from HLN catapulted him to the position of the top-rated non-prime time host on the Fox network. Since then, there has been no looking back for Beck. This television personality has also tried his hand at web publishing, e-commerce and live concerts with sufficient success. His contract with Fox is now over, and Beck looks keen to achieve greater success by working on his own.