How much does television cost? Millions – if you’re a period drama

Movie studios are often hesitant to confirm the budgets of their biggest movies, but we can generally ballpark something like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the $250 million range. Television shows, however, prove a little harder to guess. We know that many networks love reality shows because of their seemingly non-existent cost, but it’s unclear how much they’re saving over scripted television shows.

If a new (albeit outsourced) report from Uproxx can be believed, it can cost a few million for an hour of quality television. Unsurprisingly, fantasy shows and period dramas cost the most to make. An average episode of Game of Thrones can cost $6 million, while each episode of the miniseries The Pacific cost a startling $20 million. Smaller shows like Friends and ER often ran into the $10 million range, though only in later seasons when their casts had name recognition and could get away with asking for more. That still places each season of these shows far below the cost of the average blockbuster movie.

These numbers certainly provide a little perspective about why a network might be hesitant to renew a series that can cost around $70 million per season. It also reveals how cost-effective television shows can be when they limit their special effects budgets. Would you be comfortable trading Maleficent ($180 million) for thirty episodes of Game of Thrones?

Luckily for our patrons, the most expensive TV shows of all time are free to borrow from our collection!

Deadwood – HU DVD 7101 – 7129
Boardwalk Empire – HU DVD 9421 – 9423
Game of Thrones – HU DVD 10021 – 10023
Friends – HU DVD 14038 -14047
Rome – HU DVD 14072 – 14073
Band of Brothers – HU DVD 14080
The Pacific – HU DVD 14081

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