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TV show budgets
July 7, 2007 11:01 PM   Subscribe

How can I find out the per-episode budget for a given TV show?

For example, this article says that prior to 2003, each episode of "The Practice" cost $6.5 million. IMDb doesn't seem to list this information. Where do I turn?
posted by stammer to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
That would be really difficult. I work in episodic TV, and the budget for a television series is often kept secret. I don't know why. I was on a show (multi-camera sitcom) on CBS two years ago that had a budget of $900,000 which is outrageously low. Before that I was on an animated series for NBC that had a budget of $3,000,000 an episode.

Series gain in cost each year they are in production, sometimes quadrupling (or more) in expense when the ensemble cast's contracts all expire at the same time. Like on Seinfeld, for the last year they each held out for $1,000,000 an episode. The same thing on Friends.

I recently heard that the estimate for half hour TV was 2 million an episode.

Are you interested in the cost of a particular show? I could ask around and get some educated guesses.
posted by generic230 at 11:31 PM on July 7, 2007


the budget for a television series is often kept secret. I don't know why

It's usually because:

* Unlike movies, TV budgets don't become a marketing tools for the product, because TV doesn't charge for tickets. Nobody cares that an episode of Grey's Anatomy costs X million. It's not going to contribute to anyone's interest to watch it. But the fact that Transformers cost $XXX million, with $XXX million spent on effects alone ... that's interesting. And it speaks to a justification of the price of the ticket and the relative exclusivity of the release. But movie budgets are estimates, anyway.

* Nobody wants the below-the-line folks to know what the above-the-line folks are making.

* Nobody wants the above-the-line folks to know what to expect for residuals.

* Nobody wants the advertisers to know how much they're actually contributing to network profits.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:42 PM on July 7, 2007


For example, this article says that prior to 2003, each episode of "The Practice" cost $6.5 million.

The bulk of those costs must be salaries, given that each episode of Deadwood was reported as costing $5 million.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:18 AM on July 8, 2007


Fair enough. Thanks all!
posted by stammer at 2:57 PM on July 8, 2007


hey Generic230
any idea what the budget for "30 Rock" is?
I'm on a feature now and we might be hiring one of their actresses for a role.
Our EP is trying to get a feel for what her rate on that might be.
posted by mprove at 10:16 AM on February 7, 2008


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