10 Most Expensive TV Shows Ever

Ever wondered just how much it costs to make your favourite TV show? Well, turns out that it’s not just feature films that are spending millions to keep TV fans entertained & enthralled. As CGI reaches new frontiers in shows such as Game of Thrones it really is no wonder that the budgets are a little high (and could probably end third world hunger).

According to recently published data from Digital Spy here’s how the ten most expensive shows ever rank on record from the ‘smallest’ to the biggest episode budgets. You can expect to find your epic Sci Fi Fantasies alongside your humble sitcoms, prepare to have your minds blown.

1.    Frasier.

Who would have thought it? We all knew Frasier was a man of decadent tastes, but who knew he was that expensive?! By the time the series wrapped up in May 2004 the production cost of each episode was estimated to total to $5.2 million (£3.83 million). Turns out the cast weren’t all that cheap after 10 years of filming the show. Kelsey Grammar’s salary alone cost the production team $1.6 million per episode. Turns out there’s more to Frasier than meets the eye head on over to Uproxx to find out more fascinatingly ridiculous facts.

2.    Camelot

Back in 2011 Starz Cable Network treated historical fantasy drama fans to a wickedly adult take on the story of King Arthur. Turn’s out, it wasn’t all that cheap to make after the network reportedly spent up to $7 million per episode (£5.16 million). Whilst the production value may have not been enough to save the series fans still enjoyed the rather adult fantasy epic. Even if it did only air for ten episodes. Rotten Tomatoes didn’t have many nice things to say about the series either.

3.    Sense8

Sense8 is just one of Netflix’s highly funded series. Sadly, the investment in Sense8 may have been a little overly ambitious. Much to fans disappointment the series was cancelled after it became quite evident that the passionate cult following which amassed behind Sense8 wasn’t enough to foot the bill of the series. Each episode of Sense8 cost Netflix a staggering $9 million per episode (£6.64 million). Thankfully we still have Stranger Things & other delights curtesy of the forward thinking streaming service which are showing no signs of cutting back their budgets.

4.    Marco Polo

Variety reported the loss made by the ambitious historical drama Marco Polo was almost as eyewatering as the budget for the show. Coming in at roughly the same cost per episode as Sense8 at $9 million we’ve placed Marco Polo a tad higher on the list due to the overall cost of the production which left Netflix out of pocket by a devastating $200 million dollars (£147 million dollars.) I almost want to cry for them. After hearing of Weinstein’s involvement in the production, I feel a little better about it.

5.    Rome.

Whilst Rome was once one of the critic’s favourites that didn’t quite save the historical Drama after it was axed by HBO to save money. Fan’s of the TV show which cost $9 million (£6.64 million) per episode weren’t very pleased with HBO’s decision. Even after a decade has passed they’re still begging for the return, will they ever see it happen? Stay tuned I guess! Nerdist certainly won’t let sleeping dogs lie with this one.

6.    Game of Thrones

Yes, I can’t quite believe that Game of Thrones isn’t sitting pretty on number one on the list given the (now) high profile actors which make up the cast, the ridiculously fabulous CGI effects, multiple exotic filming locations and everything else that they throw in to make the TV series one of the greatest that has ever aired. Data estimated that when the 6th series was filmed each episode averaged at around $10 million dollars per episode (£7.38 million). Whilst they had to make some cut backs in season 7 (leaving Ghost out of the picture for the entire season because they couldn’t afford to photoshop him in) I feel a little sick imagining the size of the budget for season 8.

7.    Friends

It seems rather unlikely that Friends would beat Game of Thrones budget given the lack of CGI, cast size & lack of international filming locations. But it turns out, it cost a fair bit to film a few people sitting around in a coffee shop. By series 10 the cast had decided that that it would take $1 million dollars per episode EACH to keep them hanging around. Yes, that’s right $1 million dollars for 25 minutes of television which saw the budget per episode sky rocket to $10 million dollars (£7.38 million).

8.    The Get Down

Even though the Get Down isn’t all too well known, they still spent up to $11 million dollars (£8.11 million) on each episode! Sadly, for the streaming service Netflix this was yet another budgeting fail which saw them lose a fair amount of money after the musical extravaganza by Baz Luhrmann was cancelled after the first season. Baz Luhrmann told the Guardian that he will provably focus on film now instead.

9.    ER

Does anyone even still remember ER? Well, when George Clooney was treating audiences to his pensive diagnosis’ each episode was costing Warner Bros up to $13 million dollars (£9.59 million dollars). Given that ER ran from 1994 – 2009 the budget for the episodes are fairly phenomenal even by todays standards. Find out why Vox still dubs ER one of the hottest shows of 2018.

10.    The Crown

It should come as no surprise that since Netflix is throwing money all over the show that they would be the one to head up the list of the ten most expensive TV shows EVER made. The royal biopic is estimated to cost over $13 million dollars (£9.59 million) for each episode thanks to the 5-star cast and lavish production values. Thankfully for Netflix this one didn’t crash and burn.

I have no doubt that after season 8 of Game of Thrones airs and releases its budget it will grab itself the number one spot. Each of the final extended episodes are set to cost $15 million. However, with it’s shorter run with only six episodes the top spot may instead be bagged by the Hobbit which is predicted to break TV production budget records potentially costing upwards of $1 billion dollars. Yes. You heard that right. $1 BILLION DOLLARS.


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