How Much Does It Cost to Produce Your Favourite TV Show?


How much does it cost to produce your favorite TV show?

In recent years of living room entertainment, it’s no secret that TV shows have skyrocketed in popularity. We’re not talking about the religiously watched soaps however, we’re talking about a new kind of fix – big budget, quality, original programming.

Now with on-demand services making it easier than ever before to follow all of our favorite TV shows, it’s no wonder we’ve gone mad for blockbuster-quality television series.

But quality doesn’t come cheap. The average cost of an original network TV show in 2015 comes in at $3.5 million. Compare that against the budget of some Oscar-winning films. ‘Boyhood’, which took 12 years to complete was made with just a $4 million budget. Even cheaper still was ‘Whiplash’, costing a mere $3.3 million to make.

So when it comes to the silver screen, how much do your favorite shows cost? In order of cost per episode, with the additions of network and viewer rating, you can see for yourself in the table below:

ShowNetworkAvg. budget per episodeViewer rating (IMDB)
Game of ThronesHBO$8,000,0009.5
Once Upon a TimeABC$4,500,0008
House of CardsNetflix$4,500,0009
The Big Bang TheoryCBS$4,000,0008.5
Orange Is The New BlackNetflix$4,000,0008.4
Modern FamilyABC$3,500,0008.6


Interestingly spending more money doesn’t necessarily equate to more views. That’s down to something much harder to buy – an enticing story.

Unsurprisingly, the driving force behind production costs are salaries. The cast of Friends were paid $1 million per episode in 2002 – or $1.4 6million in today’s money. Because of this, NBC made a loss on the final series, despite advertisers paying $473,500 for a 30-second advertising slot. You can only imagine what today’s top TV stars are pocketing per appearance.

For more on the costs of your favorite TV shows, and whether the expenses are worth it, make sure to read the full infographic below.


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Nivene obtained her Bachelors of Communication from Loyola University Chicago. She loves to discuss fashion, finance, TV and cupcakes. Rumor has it she loves owls and drinks too much coffee – that is yet to be determined.

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The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.