Digital dragons don’t come cheap. That’s the lesson HBO is learning as its popular drama “Game of Thrones” is set to ring up gaudy price tags for each of its final episodes.
According to Variety, HBO will spend $15 million each for the six episodes due to air as part of the series' final season in 2019. That blows past the $10 million per episode competitor Netflix spent on “The Crown” and well eclipses the average $5 million to $7 million spent per hour for cable and streaming dramas, according to the report.
The breakdown of “Game of Thrones” episodes provides a window into production costs that are driving up content budgets for programmers like HBO, Netflix and Amazon.
In December of last year, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said HBO has a “pretty hefty” budget.
"We’re not spending our programming money on library product. We’re doing original shows … We’ve been increasing it, and we’ll keep increasing it,” Bewkes said, according to Deadline.
It also presents a stark reality for new hopefuls like Apple and Facebook, which are seeking to become big-time players for high-end TV shows. Both Apple and Facebook have reportedly set $1 billion content budgets for the near-term future and, should the cost of blockbuster dramas continue to rise, they’ll need every bit of it to keep up with the big spenders.
Earlier this month, Netflix CFO David Wells told a crowd of investors that a $20 million-per-hour series is not out of the question, and that Netflix has the audience to support such lavish spending.
Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has reportedly ordered a shift in his company’s original content strategy, and demanded the Amazon Studios team deliver the next “Game of Thrones.”