Prestige television doesn’t come cheap, with the premium cablers and streaming services spending millions per episode – an amount that can add up rather quick for full seasons.
To date, the most expensive TV series per episode is Netflix’s “The Crown” – clocking in at $13 million each. Hot on its heels is the one (and only) season of Baz Luhrmann’s “The Get Down” which officially came in at $11 million per episode though unofficially was rumored to be closer to $15 million.
Two seasons of “ER,” the last season of “Friends” and “Game of Thrones” all clock in at $10 million each, with the final season of ‘Thrones’ likely to go higher – HBO is said to be paying about as much as it has for past seasons even though the episode count is lower.
It begs the question? Will we soon hit a time when the $20 million per episode mark will be reached? Speaking at the Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference in New York City this week, Netflix CFO David Wells says their model could support such a possibility: “Certainly, we can support that level of quality if the [audience] is there.”
Netflix now has 104 million customers worldwide and as long as a property could capture some more of those potential billions of global customers, even costlier TV productions are a possibility.
Last Fall it was Wells’ cohort, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who brought up the possibility saying at the time at the New Yorker’s TechFest conference that with blockbuster Hollywood films spending around $100 million per hour of content and the same level TV doing it for a tenth the price, it means: “what we’re all interested in is, how do we expand… and figure out what $20 million-an-hour television looks like.”
Netflix is targeting a $7 billion spend on content next year.