Forbes highest paid TV show hosts: Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon are the highest paid on late night

But the Late Show has struggled to match the Tonight Show in ratings since it Colbert began hosting in September 2015

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The Independent Online

Two talk show titans, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, are the highest paid late night TV hosts – but do their high salaries match the number of people tuning in? 

According to Forbes’ list of the "World’s Highest Paid TV Show Hosts", Colbert and Fallon both earn a whopping $15m for their working making US audiences laugh before bedtime. But Colbert, the host of the CBS Late Show, has struggled to match the viewership of his direct competitor, Fallon, and The Tonight Show on NBC.

Colbert fell behind Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel – who came in at $12m on the list – during his first year on CBS. The former Colbert Report host and Daily Show alumnus had large shoes to fill when he took the place of David Letterman in September 2015, and the show has seemed to find its stride tonally and amongst viewers in recent months. 

For his part, Fallon appears to stretch the value of his $15m since debuting in February 2014 with bits catered to the Youtube audience that manage to go viral multiple times a week. 

But CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves has faith in Colbert, as the host falls back into his comfort zone of political satire as the 2016 election progresses. 

Conan O’Brien made the list with $12.5m in earnings, slightly higher than Kimmel, who maintains a larger viewership than the former Tonight Show and Late Night host.

Absent from the list are James Corden, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, and the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. 

Looking at the Forbes list as a whole, however, even the combined salaries of Fallon and Colbert fail to measure up to the heavy hitters of daytime television. 

Dr Phil McGraw ranks number one on the list with $88m; Ellen DeGeneres comes in second with $75m; and Ryan Seacrest is third with $55m.