The Most Expensive TV Shows of All Time [Infographic]

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Your entertainment doesn’t come cheap and you might be surprised to learn just how high the price tag of some of your favourite shows actually is. This infographic from Frame Your TV takes you through the most expensive shows to ever make it to air.

Where Does All the Money Go?

Some of the shows on this list are absorbing crazy amounts of cash. Take an extremely popular show like Game of Thrones, costing $10 million per episode. It may seem ludicrous, but this is hardly surprising when you consider the amazing detail that goes into each show. However, the biggest drain on finances for GoT is the amount the stars are paid; millions per episode. The main stars of Game of Thrones are also set
to get even bigger pay bumps for season 8.

House of Cards is another very popular show where the cast take up a lot of cash. Kevin Spacey is currently earning $500,000 an episode and this is predicted to rise as high as $1 million if the show continues its run for another few years.

It isn’t just the TV shows of the modern era that have outrageous budgets though. 90s relic F.R.I.E.N.D.S was probably the first time a pay dispute amongst cast members was very much in the public eye. The six friends negotiated $1 million per episode pay deals and insisted all the friends would be paid the same or they would leave the show. The expression ‘Friends Money’ has been widely used in recent years as they were the first cast to really push for what they felt they were due.

It might be hard to wrap your head around why these people would ever deserve $1 million per episode, but the truth is that they probably did. With shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S earning a lot of money for their television studios, if the cash didn’t go to them, it went to some big time executive that put in not nearly as much work.

Another big earner in times gone by was Kelsey Grammer, who earned $1.6 million per episode of his hit show Frasier. He really was the heartbeat of that show and this made it easy for him to negotiate such a large salary. His co-star David Hyde Pierce was on less than half of that in the show’s final season. But then, his character wasn’t the title role.

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Yet, large salaries do not guarantee a show’s success, as has been demonstrated a few times by Netflix. Shows such as Marco Polo and The Get Down, which had budgets similar to that of Game of Thrones, completely flopped, costing the streaming service an incredible amount of money. Netflix had hoped Marco Polo, with its 90% Asian cast, would appeal to more international audiences, and thus ended up funnelling a huge amount of money into it. All for nought.

So, next time you sit down to your favourite show, remember how much it cost to bring you your weekly entertainment fix!

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James Speyer
James Speyer
James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.

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