Emmy Money: How Much is a Statuette Worth?

Emmy money doesn’t technically exist since there’s no cash prize for an Emmy, but there’s evidence stars see an average of $180,000 a year more after a win. The much talked about “Emmy bump” however may not exist as much for shows as for actors. In a small study of five recent Emmy winning TV shows, ratings only saw an average boost of 6% after a win. That’s small enough to be called statistical noise. Beyond that, there’s no way of telling whether the salary rise or ratings rise of an actor or show post-Emmy can really be chalked up to the award or if the Emmy and the extra money are just the result of good solid acting and TV production to begin with.

Emmy Money for Actors

What kind of Emmy money do actors get? First off, they get $0 for the actual award. An Emmy is a golden statuette that weighs six pounds, twelve ounces. If they were made of solid gold they’d be worth $143,000 but they’re not. They’re made of copper, nickel, silver and gold. The straight-up materials price comes to around $800, though an “undedicated” Emmy went up for sale in 2014 for $2,500.

The Emmy Bounce for Actors

There’s definitely evidence of an Emmy money bounce for actors. The rationale goes like this: actors who win an Emmy may not get any prize money when they receive the statuette, but they see a marked increase in their salary in the years after the ceremony. MoneyNation’s look at recent actors who’ve won the coveted award show that the bounce can add up to an average of $182,000 per year, or $5.46 million, over the course of a 30 year career. The actors in the study were Jon Cryer, Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Juliana Margulies and the ensemble cast of Modern Family. Taken together the actors saw an estimated average of a nearly 87% jump in salary after an Emmy win. The biggest boost for a single actor came to Jim Parsons of Big Bang Theory, who saw his salary for that show jump significantly, also enjoying a corresponding leap in the quality and number of roles offered to him after the win.

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Calling the Emmy Money Bounce into Question

Emmy MoneyHow solid is the Emmy money bounce for actors? To put it bluntly, if this were a court of law it would be pretty easy to pick it apart. There’s no denying that actors definitely do see their pay go up after an Emmy win. But there’s also no denying that more people get in car accidents after buying hot chocolate. That doesn’t mean hot chocolate causes car accidents. It means icy roads cause car accidents and guess what, people buy hot cocoa in the winter. What we’re saying is, an excellent actor is more likely to win an Emmy and more likely to see a pay increase, just from being great at acting. The two can exist without one thing having caused the other.

So Does the Emmy Money Bounce Exist or Not?

For actors, the Emmy money bounce almost certainly does exist, though it’s probably a lot smaller than the data shown above would indicate. An actor who wins an Emmy is probably good enough to see their yearly income go up with or without the award. That said, it’s certainly a nice feather in the cap, of a kind that won’t hurt the actor any when looking for future work. An Emmy is basically a really nice resume-builder for an actor. If there are two actors on a casting bench and one has won an Emmy and the other hasn’t, it’s a safe bet which one has the better chance of being picked.

Emmy Money for TV Shows

The fabled Emmy money boost also allegedly exists for TV shows as well as actors, though we didn’t find any solid evidence of it. In a small survey of five Emmy-winning shows, we found a 6.05% rise in ratings after an Emmy win. That’s small enough to be chalked up to statistical noise. In fact, two of the shows we looked at saw their ratings fall after a win. Modern Family’s ratings dropped by 17.67% after their 2013 Emmy win, while Undercover Boss saw a 20% drop in ratings. Just as telling, Homeland only saw just over a 1% ratings increase after their 2012 Emmy win, while Deadliest Catch saw a respectable but not earth-shaking 5% boost. In fact the only show in our study that enjoyed a huge ratings jump post-Emmy win was Breaking Bad with a stunningly high 61% ratings increase.

Emmy Money Bump for TV Shows
ShowEmmy WinRatings BeforeRatings AfterPercentage Change
Modern FamilyOutstanding Comedy Series - 20134.33.54-17.67%
Breaking BadOutstanding Drama Series - 20136.3710.2861.38%
HomelandOutstanding Drama Series - 20121.711.731.17%
Undercover BossOutstanding Reality Program - 201221.6-20.00%
Deadliest CatchOutstanding Reality Program - 20112.983.145.37%

Why Higher Ratings Means Emmy Money

Higher ratings translates to Emmy money simply because for TV shows, ratings are money. A TV show with higher ratings draws more advertising money. If an Emmy truly meant higher ratings, it would bring in more money for the show. That brings the possibility of more money to pay the actors, more money to pay the writers, more money for everything. Unfortunately, as the data above show, there doesn’t seem to be a real ratings boost for TV shows that comes directly from an Emmy win. The Breaking Bad example above can safely be called an outlier. It’s highly doubtful that the show’s 2013 Emmy caused its ratings boost and much more likely that the jump in viewership came from word of mouth. In other words, Breaking Bad was a great show, expertly written, artfully produced and masterfully acted. Because of those qualities, people talked about it and more people tuned in to see it.

If you liked reading about Emmy money, click through to this post about how much money stars make for an Oscar, or try this article about how much money players make for a Super Bowl win.