For the third consecutive year, Colombian actress Sofia Vergara, one of the stars of the hit ABC comedy Modern Family, is the highest paid actress on US television, with estimated earnings of US$37 million (NZ$44.5 million), Forbes magazine said.
Like last year, Vergara, who earns US$325,000 for each episode of Modern Family, outpaced Mariska Hargitay, the Emmy-winning star of NBC's Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, who came in second with US$13 million. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, 28, of CBS's The Big Bang Theory, came in third, with US$11 million.
"At 42, the 'Modern Family' star continues her streak in large part due to her business savvy," said Forbes.
In addition to her TV work, Vergara has endorsement deals with beverage, cosmetic, clothing and other companies. She also co-founded Latin World Entertainment, a talent, management and entertainment marketing firm.
Hargitay, the 50-year-old star of the longest-running drama series currently on TV, earns US$450,000 per episode and bulks up her earning through syndication profits.
Emmy winner Julianna Margulies, 48, of the CBS legal drama The Good Wife, was in a three-way tie for fourth place with Ellen Pompeo, 44, of the ABC drama Grey's Anatomy, and 32-year-old Cobie Smulders, of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Each actress earned an estimated US$10 million.
Forbes's list is determined by estimating pre-tax earnings between June 2013 and June 2014 from the actresses' TV work, endorsements, residuals and advertising work, and by talking to agents, managers and lawyers. The estimate does not include management fees and other expenses.
Actress Mindy Kaling, 35, the writer, producer and star of The Mindy Project, on the Fox network, clinched the No. 7 spot with US$6.5 million. Lena Dunham, the 28-year-old creator and star of the HBO series Girls,made it into the top 10 with earnings of US$3.5 million.
The top 10 actresses on the 2014 list made a combined US$140 million. That compares with the US$214 million combined earnings of the 10 leading TV actors.
The full list can be found here