As The Tonight Show is forced to cut about two dozen workers from its 200-person staff, Jay Leno has accepted a pay cut of up to $10 million in order to avoid even more layoffs. But even with a pared-down budget, the Tonight Show still handily beats the competition in ratings.
So which late-night hosts are overpaid, and which are delivering the most bang for their network’s bucks? Of course, many factors are at play in establishing a TV personality’s value—some hosts produce more episodes than others, for example, or pull in more desirable target audience. Others demonstrate their worth by helping the network establish a brand identity. But viewership is one bottom line difficult to argue with. Based on published media reports, The Daily Beast compiled the annual salary and average audience for nine top late-night hosts to see which ones are most proving their mettle. See who tops the list!