Jon Stewart is the highest paid late night host, even though his Daily Show is on cable (Comedy Central) and averages an audience only about a third the size of Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show audience. Stewart's 1.5 million loyal (he's been on since 1999) viewers per show hit advertisers' most targeted demographic (18-49) perfectly, while the demographic for Fallon's Tonight Show demo is a little broader. (Fallon's audience is around 4.3 million.) Stewart reportedly makes $25-30 million a year, topping David Letterman's second-place $20 million per. (Letterman has made more in the past.) Fallon is paid $11 million.
Even at that level, Stewart's salary will seem a bargain in a few months: as Comedy Central knows--and as you'll soon be unable to avoid knowing--there's an election coming up. Stewart's Daily Show thrives during national elections the way other late night shows just aren't set up to. John Oliver, btw, makes $2 million a year for his blistering new show on HBO. Oliver trained at The Daily Show.
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