Judge Judy and the other big moneymakers of daytime TV

March 7, 2015, 2:30 PM UTC
Judge Judy Primetime
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 14: Judge Judy Gallery for the CBS special. Judge Judy Sheindlin stars in a one-hour primetime special that will include new cases and takes a look at how the Judge transitioned from New York Family Court Judge to "Judge Judy," on JUDGE JUDY PRIMETIME, Tuesday, May 20 (8:00 PM-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
Photograph by Sonja Flemming — CBS via Getty Images

Fans of Judith Sheindlin — better known as “Judge Judy” — will be happy to learn that for the next five years, she’s not going anywhere. According to The Washington Post, her previous contract with CBS, which still had two years left to go on it, was extended Monday until 2020, so she will be adjudicating small claims disputes in a simulated courtroom setting for the next five years, at a minimum.

Not bad for a star of daytime TV, whose denizens rarely make the headlines that their prime-time and late-night counterparts do. However, just because they don’t get all the ink, it doesn’t mean that their salaries don’t keep pace with the competition. Daytime TV salaries are frequently stratospheric, as TV Guide Magazine recounts in its yearly “Who Earns What: TV Guide Magazine‘s Annual Salary Roundup of TV’s Highest Paid Stars” report.

The most recent dispatch of this kind was released in August 2014. Fortune mined the data found therein and discovered which stars are bringing home the bacon while you’re slaving away in your cubicle, struggling to earn just to make your car payments.

5. Whoopi Goldberg, ‘The View’

Actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg joined the panel of “The View” in 2007 after Rosie O’Donnell had stormed out in a huff. According to Variety, it took a couple of weeks, but the show began drawing higher ratings, and it has remained popular under Goldberg’s stewardship.

She has attracted controversy since her first day on the show, when she described football player Michael Vick’s dogfighting as merely “part of his cultural upbringing,” as well as when she said that film director Roman Polanski’s statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl wasn’t the same thing as “rape rape.” In spite of these statements, or perhaps because of them, the show keeps drawing viewers, for which Goldberg has been rewarded with a $5 million annual salary.

4. Shepard Smith, ‘Shepard Smith Reporting’

Newscaster Shepard Smith has been a member of the Fox News team since the network’s inception in 1996. A TV Guide poll conducted in 2003 found him tied with Peter Jennings and Dan Rather as the most trustworthy news anchor, beaten only by Tom Brokaw, and four years later he was drawing a salary of somewhere between $7 million and $8 million, according to The New York Times.

In September 2013, he became the host of the daytime news show, “Shepard Smith Reporting,” which according to TV Guide is good for an annual salary of $10 million. Not a bad payday for someone who is the one Fox News personality that liberals will grudgingly tolerate.

3. Robin Roberts, ‘Good Morning America’

If ABC’s “Good Morning America” were a building, its lobby would have a revolving door. Such names have come and gone from the on-air staff as Joan Lunden, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric, but for the last 10 years, Robin Roberts has remained a constant part of the show.

Roberts was forced to put her job on hold in 2012 to undergo a bone marrow transplant. She was back at work just a few months later, and today, she draws an annual salary of $14 million per year.

2. Matt Lauer, ‘The Today Show’

Host Matt Lauer with a puppy on NBC News' "Today" show.

When longtime “Today Show” host Bryant Gumbel left the show in 1997, Matt Lauer was there to replace him. He has been involved in some awkward moments, such as his 2005 interview with Tom Cruise, during which the actor, who was then deep in the middle of his couch-jumping era, accused him of being “glib” and ignorant of the history of psychiatry.

For surviving tense standoffs such as the aforementioned, Lauer has been handsomely compensated. He signed a deal to remain on “The Today Show” in 2012, and TV Guide said that he is paid somewhere between $22 million and $25 million a year.

1. Judith Sheindlin, ‘Judge Judy’

Judge Judy, aka Judy Sheindlin.

Judith Sheindlin, star of the courtroom-based reality show “Judge Judy,” is not just the dispenser of such factoids as “’um’ is not an answer” and “if you interrupt again, your case is dismissed and I'm throwing you out.” She is the highest-paid person on television, whether in daytime, nighttime or or any other time.

Sheindlin earns $47 million a year, according to TV Guide, and only works 52 days out of the year, according to The Washington Post. This puts her close to earning a cool million dollars for every day that she upbraids unemployed ne’er-do-wells who have failed to reimburse their baby mamas for overdue cell phone bills in a timely fashion.

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