How Much Does It Cost to Make a TV Show?

Just about all of us like to watch television shows. We all have our preference on what kind of show to watch and who are our favorite actors and actresses. But this is just one side of the proverbial coin. We are more on the entertainment side of television. This article will delve into the business side; the cost of making a television show.

In this particular case, the key figure in the making of a television show is not the actor or director, but the (Executive) Producer. He or she is the one who bankrolls a series. You could very well say they hold the purse strings that will determine if the series will proceed.

Quality TV shows do not come cheap. We have seen how some series have become immensely successful like Big Bang Theory, Friends, House of Cards and (yes) Game of Thrones. Producers have allotted a substantial budget averaging $4 million per episode. Producers have taken a huge gamble putting a lot of money in these shows with the hope they will be followed by many and in the case of the above-mentioned series, that gamble paid off handsomely.

Paying the Cast and Crew

Usually the first thing that comes into mind regarding the cost of making a good TV show is the salary of the cast. If producers bring in big-name stars. They are usually paid a princely sum. For instance, the main cast of Friends are paid $1 million per episode. In return for these princely salaries, these actors put out sterling performances, proving they are worth every penny paid to them.

There’s also the location to take into consideration. It is considered more expensive to shoot in a studio and as a result, some series go on location. In Game of Thrones, certain places in Europe are chosen because they provide the atmosphere and the appropriate buildings to fit the story. But still, producers shell out money though lesser than when doing it in a studio. The cost may depend on the location.

The Writer – The Most Important Person

Let us not also count out the writers who provide the story that is shown on television screens. Their role is as important as the actors and directors. They are paid layers of progressive fees. First of which is a Pilot Writing Fee where the writer will come up with a script. Under the WGA Agreement, the minimum a writer will get is $26,000 for a 30-minute script and $38,000 for a 60-minute one. An A-level writer could get as high as $250,000!

But it does not stop here. The writer is also paid Pilot Producing Services. This focuses on the nature of the writer’s services if the script is well-received and the pilot episode is ordered to production. At this point, the studio may give the writer other roles besides writing the script such as being an “executive produce’ or be a consultant. The possible maximum fee a writer can get here is $100,000. If the series becomes successful, the writer can negotiate for a percentage of the profits in excess of 5%, then of course, there is the special mention in the credits and other perks the studio may see fit to give.

So there you have it. Producers invest or spend a lot of money to ensure you get to watch the best TV series and when these shows are successful, it is considered a return of investment for them and their gamble paid off.

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