How Much Does Kevin Costner Make for ‘Yellowstone’?

by Leanne Stahulak

As not only the lead of the show but also a hugely successful star in his own right, Kevin Costner must make a decent amount of money per “Yellowstone” episode. Outsider is here to break down exactly how much he earns and how that’s changed over the last four seasons.

First, let’s take it back to 2017. The Paramount Network cable channel had just started rebranding, needing new shows to bolster audiences and show the change in creative direction. Kevin Kay, who originally oversaw CMT and TV Land, soon started the rebranding process to turn Spike TV into the Paramount Network. “Yellowstone” was part of that process, and he knew he wanted to land a big star like Kevin Costner.

But movie stars like Costner don’t come cheap. Kay told the Hollywood Reporter flat out that for “Yellowstone” Season 1, Kevin Costner would make $500,000 per episode. Per Wide Open Country, that translates into a whopping $5 million for the whole season.

“The statement we wanted to make was that we’re open for business and we’re willing to pay top-tier actors whatever their quotes are. It sends a message and that’s what we want to do,” Kay told the outlet at the time.

Of course, “Yellowstone” soon exploded. By Season 4, millions of viewers were tuning into each week’s episode. It even set a record for the most viewers to tune into a telecast cable show since “The Walking Dead” in 2017.

So, Costner’s salary had to reflect that. According to Puck, the star and producer renegotiated his contract every season, earning more and more per episode. By Season 4, the outlet reports that Kevin Costner made $1.2 million per episode. Which equates to $12 million for the whole season.

You might think that this puts Costner at the top of the list for highest-paid TV actors out there. And while he certainly lies somewhere in the Top 10, several other stars still earn more than him.

How Kevin Costner’s ‘Yellowstone’ Salary Compares to Other TV Stars

Keep in mind that “Yellowstone” runs on cable and not a streaming service. Networks usually have different budgets than huge platforms like Netflix or HBO. Through that lens, it makes sense that Kevin Costner might make only $1.2 million per episode while other stars on streamed shows earn a bit more.

For example, Newsweek reports that Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon each bagged $2 million per episode for “The Morning Show” on Apple TV+.

Witherspoon also earned a hefty salary for her stint “Big Little Lies” on HBO, per Yahoo News. She and each of her co-stars (Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep) earned more than $1 million per episode. But for Season 2, Kravitz reportedly negotiated for $3 million per episode. And Woodley received a huge pay raise from her Season 1 salary of $1.7 million per episode.

Other stars from big-name streaming shows didn’t make quite as much as Kevin Costner, though. Like Jason Bateman from “Ozark,” who bagged only $300,000 per episode. Same for the main “Stranger Things” cast, who only earned $350,000. Even “Game of Thrones” actors earned just as much as Costner ($1.2 million) for the wildly popular HBO show.

Cable Stars That Earned More than Kevin Costner

But “Yellowstone” runs on cable, not a streaming service. So, how much did Kevin Costner make compared to those TV stars? For one thing, he made more per episode than “NCIS” star Mark Harmon, who sits at $525,000 per episode. And more than the “Modern Family” stars who make $500,000 per episode.

But he makes significantly less than “The Big Bang Theory” stars. Kaley Cuoco earned $24.5 million for one season alone in 2018. That’s double what Costner made for Season 4 of “Yellowstone.”

And Kelsey Grammar from “Frasier” earned $1.6 million per episode for the final two seasons. And this was way back in 2001.

We can only imagine how much Costner will renegotiate for the upcoming “Yellowstone” Season 5. And hopefully, his co-stars can renegotiate too. Per Cinema Blend, actors like Cole Hauser, Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, Wes Bentley, and Kelsey Asbille only earn about $200,000 per episode. They’re definitely due for a raise.