There’s no doubt that legendary American sitcom Seinfeld is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon at the time of its airing and even until now.
But it’s still surprising just how much the show, which ended airing in 1998, is still earning up to the hundred millions today.
New York magazine-run website, Vulture, estimates the show’s “financial empire” at around $3.1 billion as of latest.
A big bulk of this massive net worth comes from syndication profits that the show has been enjoying since 1995. Each episode has an average rate of $5 million for television channel reruns.
One of its latest streaming deals is with Hulu which bought syndication rights for all the show’s episodes for $160 million.
With the show remaining to be a favorite watch among many Americans until today, it’s safe to say that Seinfeld and its creators will benefit from the show’s never-ending success.
As expected, Jerry Seinfeld remains to be one of the biggest benefactors of the show’s success. His share of the rerun profits remain to be unknown but his current estimated net worth of $800 million seems to be a great tip-off that his payouts remain massive.
Another indication of his total profits is his reported $36 million Seinfeld earnings in 2015 alone. This easily makes him one of the highest paid comedians in the industry. In fact, his syndication earnings alone make his take-home pay higher than that of any professional basketball player in the United States. Not bad for creating a successful show about nothing, eh?
The Rest of the Cast
Unfortunately, his equally iconic co-stars don’t enjoy the same financial benefits as Jerry. Because former castmates and onscreen friends Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards don’t own stakes in the show, they only get a fraction of what Jerry and co-creator Larry David make.
According to The International Business Times, most of their share of the Seinfeld earnings pie come from DVD sales and not the more lucrative syndication deals.
The setup ended up this way due to some alleged power play among the four actors during a negotiation for the final season in 1997. According to Alexander, it was Jerry who made the final decision to cut out the three of them from getting show royalties.
At the end of the negotiations, the three co-leads were only able to get salary raises instead of the “back-end participation”(royalties) that they requested for.
However, Jerry still says that there were no hard feelings between him and his castmates due to the final decision. In fact, the four of them remain to be friends to this day.