So, How Much Money Does NBC Really Pay Brian Williams? Good Question.

Jun 11, 2015  •  Post A Comment

By Chuck Ross

When one reads stories about NBC’s suspended anchor Brian Williams the consensus seems to be that he makes $10 million a year.

The origin of this number, as far as I can determine, is this paragraph from a Los Angeles Times article that was published on Dec. 15, 2014:

“NBC News is expected to announce Monday that he has signed a new contract. Though Williams will acknowledge only that it’s a long-term deal, insiders at the network say it will keep him at the helm of the “NBC Nightly News” for at least five more years. He didn’t disclose his financial compensation, but it’s said to be more than $10 million a year.”

Note that the article says “more than $10 million a year.”

Less than two month later the L.A. Times was writing, “In December, he was rewarded with a five-year contract that pays him about $10 million a year.”

But is that correct? If you click on Celebrity Net Worth, it says in 2014 Williams’ salary was $13 million a year. It noted that he started in 2004 making $8 million a year, and was increased to $10 million a year by 2006.

However, a Boston Globe column from January 15, 2007, claims at that time Williams was making $6 million a year.

In a Feb. 13, 2009, piece in Business Insider, Williams was said to be making $10 million annually. By August of the next year, 2010, TV Guide had Williams’ salary at $12.5 million.

In its next year’s survey, published Aug. 10, 2011, TV Guide had Williams making $13 million a year. Three years later, on April 15, 2014, Politico wrote that “Brian Williams makes an estimated $13 million a year.”

In Jay Rosen’s respected Pressthink blog, reader Abe Maslow wrote this on March 16, 2015: “The previous contract for Williams, ending May 17, 2015, paid him $16.5 million in its last year.”

So how much does Brian Williams really make? Good question.


  1. The notion that Brian Williams is paid only $10 million is absurd. Indeed, his previous contract paid him $16,500,000. That’s the contract that ended on 05/17/2015, and was renewed early last fall.

    He wouldn’t possibly have renewed for LESS money. The renewal came long before his implosion.

    Your analysis is entirely correct. The LA Times broke the story on that renewal, and said it was “at least $10 million.” But journalists have made the mistake of reading that as “$10 million.”

    Hell, Rachel Maddow makes $9 million. Why would the Nightly anchor make only 11 percent more than the top anchor on NBC’s tiny cable channel?

  2. lester should be paid at least 8 million a year retro to when he took the helm
    plus the 4 million hes making if he keeps up the scedule he had before .,. plus a free all expenese apt at the studio since he ll probably be living there if he keeps all the other stuff also
    practically every time i turn on tv theres lester.

  3. after reading the 16 million thing for williams and 9 for maddow. something like
    13-14 million a year for the news is more appropriate

  4. so so really who pays for a salary all those damn commercials that we have to watch 15-20 minutes worth every program the consumer me and you have to pay a salary what the hell a guy’s worth 16 million dollars to read a prompter I read my grand children’s books every night I don’t get paid 60 million what’s what’s wrong you a guy reads something and he’s worth 16 million dollars boy what up fucked up society we live in

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