We remember back when ABC had released information that the pilot episode of ‘Lost’ cost between $10-14 million that the network had gone crazy. It just seemed so unlikely that a single television episode should cost that much money.
But at the highest level of quality when it comes to show product, the $10 million per episode cost is seemingly becoming more normal, with ‘Game of Thrones’ season six costing at least that much per episode.
Enter Netflix original ‘The Get Down.’ One of the most hyped series yet for the streaming service, and there is certainly a cool factor clearly visible in the trailer that makes it at least seem like an interesting concept. But according to Variety, the budget for the series ballooned extremely high, especially for a show that hasn’t even streamed a single episode.
‘The Get Down’s’ first season has a reported cost of close to $120M, making it one of the most expensive first seasons of television ever. And it won’t ever see a single dollar of advertising revenue when it makes its debut on Netflix August 12th. The 12 episode premiere season has now matched ‘Game of Thrones’ cost of $10M per episode after an expected budget of $7.5 million was quickly exceeded. For some context, the second season of GoT had a cost closer to $6 million per episode, and has clearly earned higher budgets with an insanely loyal viewership.
Netflix isn’t afraid to take massive bets, and has already argued that they don’t necessarily care about total number of viewers, and instead focus more on new subscription signups and customer retention. But is this the right strategy?
We argued earlier this month that Netflix is perhaps placing too much focus on original content with these big bets, instead of bringing a higher quantity of total number of shows to their library. It’s clear they’re betting big on becoming an HBO as opposed to a massive third party video library, has this left their subscriber base alienated?
The Netflix library has shrunk nearly 40% over the past four years, and this quarter was one of Netflix’s worst earning calls in recent memory, and the stock price took a big hit.
It’s hard to put a lot of context about what it costs to buy the rights to a show, as most streaming services are very secretive about these numbers. But $120 million is a lot of money no matter the argument that could have easily been spent on at least a handful of popular television shows and movies.
Netflix has plenty of data to make great decisions with their purchases, but sometimes data can over-complicate these things. What if Netflix instead opted to bring back ‘King of the Hill,’ ‘Teen Wolf,’ and a few other popular shows for that same price? Could they draw in even more subscribers with less work?