“The Big Bang Theory” stars have been making headlines all week with their new $1 million per episode contracts. Many have been comparing it to the “Friends” deals of 2002, but Business Week broke down the numbers, and when you consider inflation the deals are not as comparable.
The “Friends” cast were the first to break the seven-figure mark, but just 12 years later their million-dollar deals would actually work out to be $1.32 million in 2014 money. Charlie Sheen’s $1.25 million per episode arrangement with CBS in 2011 for “Two and a half Men” is a much closer comparison than the new “BBT” paychecks.
Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting will, however, be making more than the “Seinfeld” cast nabbed in 1997 — which would work out to be more than $800,000 per episode today. They are also making more than double what Tina Fey, Neil Patrick Harris and Steve Carell made for their respective sitcoms.
It’s worth noting that today’s sitcoms are not drawing the viewers that the shows of the late ’90s and early 2000s were. Plus, it’s only the top three stars of “The Big Bang Theory” who landed seven figures. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar also got significant pay raises but will stay in the mid-high six-figure range for the next three seasons. However, the show has ranked as No. 1 in ratings for the past three years, and even reruns outrank a lot of first-run shows.
Even if the numbers don’t work out to be as BAZINGA as the “Friends” deal, the entire cast of “The Big Bang Theory” will still be having a much, much nicer pay day than the rest of us.
Production was set to resume Wednesday (Aug. 6) on the sitcom. Season 8 will premiere at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Monday, Sept. 22 on CBS.