The Salaries of TV’s Highest-Paid Showrunners Will Blow Your Mind

Netflix Salaries Showrunner

How much are TV’s top showrunners earning? Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

In professional sports, free agency is a time of great activity in which players change teams for lucrative big-dollar deals on the open market. As the salary cap continues to rise throughout North America’s four major sports, the amount of money being thrown around continues to increase right along with it. As a free market system would dictate, teams find themselves bidding against one another for top-tier talent as the demand far outstrips the supply.

We’re now witnessing a similar phenomenon tear through the television industry. Five hundred scripted series are expected to air in 2019, leading to an arms race for content creators that has sparked an explosion in showrunner salaries. While tracking the major free agents poised for mega-deals is fun (and important!), we can’t ignore the heavy hitters who’ve already signed on the dotted line.

Here, five of the highest-paid showrunners in TV and the estimated values of their current deals (all numbers courtesy of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter).

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Greg Berlanti Salary

Greg Berlanti
His Deal’s Estimated Value:
$400 million
Contract Duration:
4 Years
Studio:
Warner Bros.

Greg Berlanti’s prodigious volume across the small screen is historic. With 14 series under his belt, he set a record in 2018 for the most shows on the air (he also wrote and directed the well-received feature-length queer love story Love, Simon). He is best known as the mastermind behind The CW’s Arrowverse—which will soon add Batwoman to its ranks—but his full résumé includes: All American, Arrow, Black Lightning, DC’s Legends of TomorrowThe FlashRiverdale and Supergirl for The CW; Blindspot for NBC; God Friended Me and The Red Line for CBS; Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for Netflix; Titans and Doom Patrol for the DC Universe digital service; and You for Lifetime/Netflix.

Netflix Ryan Murphy $300 Million

Ryan Murphy
His Deal’s Estimated Value: $300 million
Contract Duration:
5 Years
Studio: Netflix

The seeds of Ryan Murphy’s long-time partnership with Netflix were planted long before he signed a deal with the streamer, as the pair were developing the musical series The Politician and Ratched, their One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest prequel, together. The writer-director-producer and longtime Fox golden boy first gained traction with FX’s Nip/Tuck and Fox’s Glee. Since then, he has overseen the development of several successful shows such as American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Feud, 9-1-1 and Pose.

NBC Netflix Mike Schur The Good Place

Mike Schur
His Deal’s Estimated Value:
$125 million
Contract Duration:
5 Years
Studio:
Universal TV

Confession: Michael Schur may be our favorite name on this list, as the maestro of clever feel-good sitcoms knows how to interweave a very special brand of humor with broad-appeal storytelling. His very familiar oeuvre includes The Office, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place. Schur has been with Universal TV since 1998, and his new deal keeps him in-house for the foreseeable future. He is currently developing Sunnyside, which follows a former New York City councilman (Kal Penn) who finds his calling when faced with immigrants in need of his help and in search of the American Dream.

Netflix Salaries Shonda Rhimes Ryan Murphy

Shonda Rhimes
Her Deal’s Estimated Value: $100 million (thought this figure is up for debate)
Contract Duration:
4 Years
Studio:
Netflix

Shonda Rhimes turned ABC into a powerhouse during her 15-year reign there, laying claim to an entire block of Thursday night programming in a very Norman Lear–like fashion. Her major credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice. Crucially, Rhimes developed a track record of wearing several hats while shepherding multiple series to hit status concurrently. Perhaps that’s why she and Netflix have hit the ground running with a whopping eight series in development.

Netflix Kenya Barris Salary

Kenya Barris
His Deal’s Estimated Value:
$100 million
Contract Duration:
3 Years
Studio:
Netflix

Black-ish creator Kenya Barris had a falling-out with ABC, which opened the door for Netflix to swoop in on the highly sought-after writer-producer. Barris cut his teeth on Are We There Yet? and America’s Next Top Model before debuting his ABC smash and its Freeform spinoff, Grown-ish. He has also lent his pen to the big screen, writing the 2017 breakout hit Girls Trip, the upcoming Shaft film and the long-awaited Coming to America sequel. His other projects in the pipeline include his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches and his remake of 1974’s Uptown Saturday Night.

The Salaries of TV’s Highest-Paid Showrunners Will Blow Your Mind