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Big Bang Theory stars triple their salaries

This image released by CBS shows, from left, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons in a scene from "The Big Bang Theory." =

MICHAEL YARISH/AP

Talk about revenge of the nerds: The cast of The Big Bang Theory just tripled their salaries for starring in TV's most-watched sitcom.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Big Bang principals Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco – who play Sheldon, Leonard and Penny, respectively - have signed new three-year deals with Warner Bros. TV to star in The Big Bang Theory.

Fellow Big Bang stars Simon Helberg (Howard) and Kunal Nayyar (Raj) are still negotiating their contracts but are expected to sign new deals shortly. Mayim Bialik (Amy) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) struck new deals with Warner Bros. TV last fall.

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In recent weeks, the contract negotiations have delayed the upcoming eighth season of the highly-rated CBS comedy.

And if the new contract deals are true, Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco have won the jackpot: Each star's salary is expected to jump from its current rate of $350,000 (U.S.) per episode to roughly $1-million (U.S.) per episode for the upcoming 24-episode campaign.

All together now: Bazinga!

The new contract also stipulates that Parson, Galecki and Cuoco will receive a larger share of the show's earnings from second-run syndication on TBS and other broadcast outlets.

In business terms, there was never much doubt Warner Bros. TV would agree to the new contracts, if only because The Big Bang Theory is a TV success story that just keeps growing.

On most weeks, Big Bang delivers a weekly viewing audience of 20-million U.S. viewers for CBS, which charges an estimated $326,260 (U.S.) for a single 30-second commercial – U.S. network television's highest ad rate for a non-sports program, according to Entertainment Weekly.

On Canadian television, Big Bang airs on CTV and routinely tops the weekly list of the most-watched English-language programs with more than three-million viewers.

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Last March, CBS renewed Big Bang for three more seasons, taking the show into its tenth season.

The new payday for the Big Bang principals is reminiscent of the deal Warner Bros. TV struck with the cast of Friends way back in 2002 – which ended with each of the show's six cast principals receiving a salary of $1-million (U.S.) per episode for the show's tenth and final season.

The Big Bang Theory will return on Monday, September 22, at 8 p.m. on CBS and CTV with an hour-long premiere before reassuming its regular time slot in October.

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