Last year, when Ellen DeGeneres signed a deal with Netflix for an exclusive stand-up special, 15 was the big number floating around.
“It has been 15 years since I did a stand-up special. 15 years,” DeGeneres said in a statement.
The bigger number, though, was 20—$20 million. That’s how much the streaming service shelled out for the special, making DeGeneres the first and only female comedian to command such a sum for a single stand-up set. The eight-figure check made 2018 her highest-earning year yet; she pocketed $87.5 million, earning her spot as the 15th-highest-paid celebrity. She’s worth $275 million—nearly enough to nab a spot on Forbes’ America’s Richest Self-Made Women list.
Netflix’s comedy specials, which chief creative officer Ted Sarandos calls “a subscriber-acquisition driver,” have featured heavy hitters like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, each of whom achieved the $20 million-per-special price tag in the more lucrative, 21st-century version of an HBO comedy special.
“If they were drivers for subscriptions on cable, they would be the same for the streaming world,” Paul Verna, principal video analyst at eMarketer, told Forbes last year.
With a content budget of $8 billion this year, $20 million is just a quarter of a percentage point for Netflix, or a drop in the bucket in exchange for DeGeneres’ millions of fans. Her daytime gabfest, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, regularly garners more than 3 million viewers; she boasts 76.1 million followers on Twitter and 55.2 million on Instagram.
DeGeneres, who has been among the highest-paid celebrities for a decade, still earns more than half of her cash from her daily talk show, thanks to a shrewd business deal that has her getting about 60% of profits from advertising, carrying fees and product placement. The rest of her paycheck comes from executive producer fees for series like Little Big Shots and Splitting Up Together, a handful of licensing deals for everything from pet supplies to furniture, and her digital platform Ellentube, which streams short-form original content.
But long before her portfolio was so varied, DeGeneres started onstage at a comedy club in New Orleans and earned Emmy nominations for HBO stand-up specials. Netflix may be new, but DeGeneres, who will be performing eight shows in August and filming the two sets in Seattle, is a veteran.
For those that can’t make the show? DeGeneres says: “Now you get to Netflix and chill with me.”
Source Grads of Life.org