A billion for a billion: how the global serial business. Dismantle “Game of thrones”

A billion for a billion: how the global serial business. Dismantle “Game of thrones”

In July, the screens will be released the seventh season of “Game of thrones”, (the production of a series — an average of $10 million). Forbes Life counted as working serial business.

In 2016, the screens out the 455 American series 46 more than a year earlier and almost two times more than in 2009.

Last year Netflix spent $1.2 billion on original content and produced 600 hours of their own series. Now streaming service already produces several programs a week — game shows, documentaries and even a private cinema.

Series8.3 True detective

What happens is called the “Golden age of television,” the countdown which began not even with “the Sopranos”, not with “Mad men” and “breaking bad”, and true detective with McConaughey and Harrelson.

After its release, the top actors are no longer afraid to leave the cinema to the TV. Previously, it was considered a sign of a fading career, and now the series with a big star in the lead role — a common phenomenon. Ewan McGregor is starring in the new season of “Fargo,” Anthony Hopkins in “the World of the Wild West”, and Amy Adams plays “Sharp objects” for HBO.

When Kevin spacey took over the “house of cards”, his colleagues twisted fingers at a temple — why do you have a series when you can continue to act in films. Spacey did not listen to them and not lost — “House” had received from Netflix the order immediately for two seasons (total budget — $100 million), received a Golden globe and a nomination for an Emmy, and the TV (even if the show episode is only online) be treated very differently. Not only financial interest, but fears that “it will devour all”.

It eats.

Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”, “the Great Gatsby”) receives from Netflix $120 million for one season of his “Annealing” — the nearly $11 million for the series, even more “Game of thrones”.

The budget of one episode of the show on a good channel now — $3-4 million

Original content release streaming Amazon Prime and Hulu, on their plans already announced by Apple. All of them adopt the strategy of “Netflix” — earn more money on the subscription, making a TV series is expensive, but for different, sometimes even niche, audience. For example, “Annealing” is the show not as a mass, to spend so much, but can make not yet covered the audience to buy a subscription to watch it “Burn”.

Series8.1 house of cards

In this regard, the service has advanced so much that became an international brand — works in every country in the world, and produces content not only in English. Go show, Spanish, French, Japanese and Portuguese by the end of the year will be released and the German series. Netflix still spends huge amount of money (average $2 million per episode) for the purchase of the series rights holders — some show on you can watch it the next day after the television premiere, and the rights to the international Internet show Russian “Posh”, for example, bought Netflix.


The cost of the series is made up of two components — costs and channel costs the Studio. If the producer of the show — the channel, it can close one’s eyes not the highest ratings — it spending in this case, it is still small. For example, it occurs with the AMC series “Stop and burn”, which, despite the weak performance, is held in the air for a fourth season: criticism is good, the amount of production is small and the channel does not have to pay a premium for buying the finished product.

Another thing, for example, with the “World Wild West” (budget only at $100 million for 10 episodes) as HBO and Warner Bros. though divide expenses in half, but the channel is paying almost as much again for the license.

Channel is much more profitable to release the series with the star than with the newcomers on the ad.

According to reports Vulture, Kevin Costner has offered $500 thousand for one episode in series one streaming service is $5 million for four months work. Refused costner just because he didn’t like the material, and the money is more than decent. A series of “Goliath” Amazon pays Billy Bob Thornton $350 thousand — twice more than his salary in Fargo.

In other words, in series with a starting budget of $40 million is easier to get a famous actor, increasing the budget by only a couple of million and hit the budget solely through well-known names. That is why the TV series are now so many stars — unless you count really increased the quality of the product — they just decently paid for three or four months of working time. Sometimes the income of the actors exceed $1 million per episode, as, for example, in the endless, but very popular “big Bang Theory”, where the actors are literally blackmailing the producers, refusing to play if they don’t increase the fee.

Upscale showrunners (the people who control the entire production process — from script writing and selection of costumes before the final installation) receive at least $30 thousand per episode. In the contract, Vince Gilligan, for example, registered $50 thousand per episode “Better call Saul”, and the creators of “Game of thrones” David Benioff and Dan Weiss say, for each series earn $100 thousand plus royalties.

However, subscription base HBO worldwide — 134 million people, the minimum price per month — $10. $100 million per season of “Game of thrones”, given its immense popularity, audience often subscribes for the sake of it, meaningless money. For writers the minimum rates are about $70 thousand per hour episode, too bad the money. Now the writers are preparing to strike, so that figure likely will increase.


Streaming services, make a subscription or advertising (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Crackle), to disclose their income, but to assess how profitable a particular series, it is almost impossible — they very rarely share their statistics. Everything is decided within the company. Premium channels like HBO also earn on the subscription, but there are those who on advertising.

For example, during the broadcast of the final episode of “breaking bad” (series budget — $3.5 million) for a 30-second advertisement sold for $400 thousand. In 21 minutes of advertising time a channel received a $7-8 million, but this is not the limit. Profit traditional TV behind the streaming revenue the same Netflix in 2016 amounted to $8,83 billion (in 2015 — $of 6.78 billion). Even taking into account the annual spending on content to $5 billion, it is super profitable business.

And in Russia?

Russian serial business, these figures never dreamed of — from-for falling of the advertising market severely affected the budgets of TV channels, which, in turn, significantly reduced the production costs. Airtime filled cheap to produce sitcoms and soap operas, really expensive projects to invest now no longer at risk. The same “Thaw” to start now would not.

Production of one episode of a sitcom on TNT costs about $80-90 thousand, time is not “soap” series on the good channel — about $200 thousand. TNT, they say, the only ones who feel calm — they have a huge advertising revenues and the crisis they are almost not felt. The rest, including the “First channel” things are not as good as before the recession, but as advertising revenues will return to TV, the quality change is possible, although unlikely to happen in the next two to three years. House of cards has already been destroyed, the Russian TV serial survives in anticipation of better times.