The World’s Highest-Paid TV Hosts: Dr. Phil, Ellen DeGeneres And Ryan Seacrest Lead

Back in 2013, Phil McGraw gave Forbes some advice: “Let’s just pay attention and form data-based assumptions and judgments about who somebody is.”

Some critical data on the psychologist-turned-television-host? Dr. Phil earned $79 million last year, making him the highest-paid TV host in the world. His sky-high earnings are mainly thanks to his eponymous daytime talk show: In addition to money from product placements, he splits the advertising profits from the show. The result adds up to over 90{8139253ca906d8d68487924acd2bd6dddc706794ed2ab7afbf93cd9cbc023267} of his total paycheck. The rest comes from producing credits on CBS’ The Doctors and The Bull, as well as speaking gigs and an endorsement deal with AstraZenica.

“If you are going to deliver a particular audience like Dr. Phil does, you are pure gold to your advertisers,” says Les Rose, professor of practice for broadcast and digital journalism at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. “If Dr. Phil didn’t appeal to moms at home, than he’d be out of business.”


Combined, the world’s 10 highest-paid TV show hosts earned $462.5 million between June 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017, before management fees and taxes. Figures are based on data from NPD Bookscan and IMDB, as well as interviews with agents, managers, publicists, producers and lawyers.

McGraw, whose earnings match his consistently first-place ratings in terms of syndicated talk shows, is joined on the list by fellow daytime and syndicated hosts Ellen DeGeneres (No. 2, $77 million), Ryan Seacrest (No. 3, $58 million), Judy Sheindlin (No. 4, $47 million), Steve Harvey (No. 6 $42.5 million) and Michael Strahan (No. 9, $21.5 million). With crowd-pleasing shows that attract large audiences, these hosts garner high rates from advertisers, who covet the targetable viewers, and favorable deals from media companies, who consider their personalities irreplaceable.

“All of them are very powerful brands and highly trusted by their audiences,” says Adam Klein, adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School. “Recommendations by a trusted source is always at the top of the page when it comes to what draws advertisers.”

Why Megyn Kelly Didn’t Make The List Of Highest-Paid TV Hosts

Like McGraw, DeGeneres has negotiated a slice of her show’s profits from lucrative advertisements, product placements and station fees. She also serves as an executive producer on shows including Little Big Shots, owns her own digital venture, developed the popular mobile game Heads Up, launched various product lines and has an endorsement deal with CoverGirl. Her earnings will only increase next year, once she is paid for her Netflix special: An industry insider confirmed she is the only woman comedian to command $20 million from the streaming service for a stand-up hour.