Just how much does it cost to produce an original episode of television for Netflix? More than you probably suspect.
Speaking at a panel discussion this weekend at the annual UCLA Entertainment Symposium, CAA TV lit agent Peter Micelli spoke to just how large the budgets are for original programming on Netflix. While House of Cards was expected to be expensive – the original deal was for $100 million to cover 26 episodes aired over two seasons – it appears executive producer David Fincher went over budget on season 1 and spent a minimum of $4.5 million per episode. Upcoming prison drama Orange is the New Black is coming in around $4 million, and Hemlock Grove is expected to cost around the same.
While he didn’t say which series is costing $3.8 million per episode, one has to wonder if its the upcoming fourth season of Arrested Development.
Micelli went on to state that Netflix’s deals for these shows cover multiple regions of the world, and gives them control over the properties for 4 years exclusively.
One has to wonder how Netflix is justifying these expenditures when it has no advertising and subscriptions are only $7.99 a month. Doing some quick math, each episode would need to be watched by 563,204 people to break even. (That is very rough math, we admit it.) Since Netflix doesn’t release viewership numbers we’ll never know for sure, but sure is a lot to think about next time you kick back to watch something on the streaming service that it holds the exclusive rights to.