According to a study done by The Los Angeles Times, Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher is one of TV’s most underpaid stars — when you calculate his salary in terms of how many viewers watched him this season. Kutcher’s $17-mil-per-year salary may sound like a lot, but when you factor in the show’s average of nearly 15 million viewers per episode, this translates to a mere $1.16 per viewer.
Looking at it from this perspective, Ryan Seacrest is working for peanuts. Despite his $15 million annual salary, the show’s ratings — about 20 million per episode — mean that Seacrest is only receiving 75 cents per viewer.
Still, that’s nothing compared to poor Jennifer Lopez, who only took in 63 cents per American Idol viewer, while The Voice‘s Chrstina Aguilera only made 17 cents per viewer.
On the flip side, a number of stars are significantly overpaid, according to the study.
Anderson Cooper, for example, earns $13.54 per viewer, since CNN pays him $6 million a year but his show only has about 400,000 viewers. Meanwhile, David Letterman takes in $9.69 for each of his Late Show viewers.
Also overpaid is Chelsea Handler, whose $12-million-per-year salary is way out of whack with her teensy audience of about 700,000 viewers, translating into $16.70 per viewer.
TV’s most overpaid personality? Former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, who was paid $10 million per year when he jumped to the little-watched Current TV channel, where he was watched by practically nobody. Before he and Current parted ways, Olbermann was raking in a whopping $56 per viewer.