The beloved TV show Friends, which aired from 1994 to 2004, continues to bring in huge earnings for its cast members. Even though the show ended 16 years ago, the actors are still among the highest-paid in television history.
When Friends first started, each actor earned $22,500 per episode in the first season. Their salaries increased to $40,000 per episode in the following season, but some complications arose when the raise didn’t apply to all six actors. Warner Bros., the production company, eventually raised the cast’s episode salary by $15,000 for season 5 and an additional $25,000 for season 6, bringing the total episode salary to $125,000 for each actor.
The real big pay raise happened between seasons 7 and 8 when each regular cast member received a whopping $750,000 per episode. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow’s salaries soared in the show’s final two seasons, making them the highest-paid actresses on television. For seasons 9 and 10, the actors signed a contract for $1 million per episode.
The Friends cast continues to reap the benefits of their success. With 236 episodes available for syndication, the show remains in high demand for repeat airings, making it a valuable asset in the lucrative syndication market. The cast negotiated smart back-end deals with their contracts, which means they earn potential royalties from these partnerships.
Warner Bros. still earns a staggering $1 billion annually from Friends through licensing and merchandise sales alone. Although the cast’s share may seem small at just 2% of the syndication money, it’s hard to complain when they receive $20 million for their past work, even more than a decade after the show’s conclusion.
The success of Friends is remarkable, especially in today’s ever-changing television landscape. With the rise of streaming services, social media distractions, and cord-cutting, it’s rare to see a show have such enduring popularity. Friends managed to capture the hearts of viewers worldwide and has remained a cultural phenomenon.
The ongoing popularity of the show ensures a steady stream of income for the cast members. Their iconic roles in Friends continue to resonate with audiences, and the dedicated fan base keeps the show profitable. The success of Friends serves as a testament to the power of a well-loved TV series, showcasing its lasting impact and ability to generate substantial earnings for its cast members, even years after its original run.