How Shonda Rhimes Manages $350 Million of ABC’s Money Per Year (VIDEO)
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Shonda Rhimes

How Shonda Rhimes Manages $350 Million of ABC’s Money Per Year (VIDEO)

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Shonda Rhimes isn’t just the queen of Shondaland. She’s a titan. And she explained why she has earned that title in her talk last week at the TED 2016 conference in Vancouver, Canada.

For example, she’s not just a producer who writes and guides our favorite Thursday night shows. She’s a producer who oversees the flow of a third of a billion dollars of ABC Studios’s money every year.

How? Her words are too powerful to paraphrase, so here’s that part of her TED Talk, transcribed en toto:

“Three shows in production at a time, sometimes four. Each show creates hundreds of jobs that didn’t exist before. The budget for one episode of network television can be anywhere from three to six million dollars. Let’s just say five. A new episode made every nine days times four shows, so every nine days that’s 20 million dollars worth of television.”

“Four television programs, 70 hours of TV, three shows in production at a time, sometimes four, 16 episodes going on at all times: 24 episodes of Grey's, 21 episodes of Scandal, 15 episodes of How To Get Away With Murder, 10 episodes of The Catch. That’s 70 hours of TV, that’s 350 million dollars for a season.”

She continued: “In America, my television shows are back to back to back on Thursday night. Around the world, my shows air in 256 territories in 67 languages for an audience of 30 million people. My brain is global, and 45 hours of that 70 hours of TV are shows I personally created and not just produced, so on top of everything else, I need to find time, real quiet, creative time, to gather my fans around the campfire and tell my stories.”

“Four television programs, 70 hours of TV, three shows in production at a time, sometimes four, 350 million dollars, campfires burning all over the world. You know who else is doing that? Nobody. So like I said, I’m a titan.”

See what we mean?

But Shonda’s entire TED talk is worth watching, especially as she explains why she “doesn’t give a crap about being a titan” — and why focusing so singlemindedly on work, even though work is where she’s happiest, made her profoundly unhappy.

Managing a third of a billion dollars each year is a heavy burden, but we’re so glad that’s one challenge to which she said yes.