Although she’s no longer on syndicated TV, Oprah Winfrey still seems to be everywhere. She’s got three shows on her still struggling OWN Network, her face still graces the cover of every O magazine and she recently appeared on the cover of our Forbes 400 issue.
Now she tops our list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Women. Winfrey earned an estimated $165 million between May 2011 and May 2012.Her net worth, which we peg at $2.7 billion, will keep her on our 400 list for years to come, but this might be one of the last years she tops our highest-paid women list. Winfrey was still earning money from her syndicated show during the time frame we used for this list, but she shut it down in May 2011 (reruns went through the summer). She has yet to take a salary at OWN, so her sources of revenue are now the shows she produces through her Harpo production company (like Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray), her satellite radio station and her magazine.
But don’t cry for Winfrey — even though she’ll earn less than $165 million next year, she’ll still pull in enough to keep her on the list, even if she’s not at the top.
Her nearest competitor this year is Britney Spears, who earned an estimated $58 million between May 2011 and May 2012, $107 million less than Winfrey. Television and music were the best ways for women to make our highest-paid list this year and Spears works in both mediums. As the newest judge on The X Factor, Spears is earning praise for her tough criticism of early contestants but she hasn’t helped the ratings. The show’s premiere episode earlier this month was down 32% from last year’s.
The 30-year-old pop star signed on to The X Factor for an estimated $15 million after our time frame for this list, so the $58 million she brought in is mostly from touring and album sales.
In third place is Taylor Swift, who also makes plenty of money off of touring. She earned an estimated $57 million between May 2011 and May 2012. At 22, Swift is the youngest woman on our list. The country music/pop crossover star has an amazing ability to churn out hits. Her two most recent singles, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Safe & Sound,” have both gone platinum.
Pop princess Rihanna ties for fourth with Ellen DeGeneres at $53 million. Rihanna debuted on our Celebrity 100 list this year in fourth place. The celebrity list is based on money as well as our quantification of celebrities’ buzz, which we base in part on social media power. The Barbados-born singer ranked second overall in the social media category thanks to her 26 million Twitter followers and 60 million Facebook fans.
With Oprah Winfrey off of daytime TV, DeGeneres is quickly becoming the most popular syndicated talk show host. Like Winfrey, DeGeneres is building her own roster of protege talk show hosts. She’s started with Bethenny Frankel, whose show had a six-week test run this summer. DeGeneres is also one of the smartest business people around. Seeking to refresh its image, J.C. Penney paid her a reported $20 million to serve as a spokeswoman.