Breaking Down the Budget: The Cost of Producing a TV Series

cost of producing a tv series

There are many different sizes of budgets for TV Series production. Despite a modest budget, some shows become very popular as the plot and the performance of beginner actors captivate the audiences.

And on other occasions, the presence of very famous actors ends up driving the costs majorly up without necessarily delivering good numbers.

But one thing is sure, whether the budget is significant or ‘beginner level’. Every director is always keen to learn more about the latest technology to save money to invest in more critical production areas or drive the overall costs down, making project financing more accessible and faster.

Pre-production is crucial to find out how to do things in practice and estimating the costs are precise as possible. Before the actors start their jobs, the writers, producers, and directors unfold the story on paper and assemble the production schedule. Among the pre-production costs, we can list the script development, the location scouting, the set design, and so on.

The Magic of The Screen: Where Are We Really?

It’s possible to mimic one location without visiting it for real when shooting TV Series and Movies. Sometimes, for different reasons, many, if not most, shows are recorded at studios, portraying different places. Hollywood certainly did a business out of that, but these things exist in Europe too, like the mighty Cinecittà in Italy. That complex became famous as an alternative to save money when shooting movies and TV Series, but these days we have other alternatives, like stock videos.

Stock photography has been out there for longer, but stock video options can save a lot of money, for example, with aerial shots. It’s hard to tell one big city from another, and it’s possible to save a lot of money with stock alternatives to footage that would involve a helicopter if the film was made in the 80s.

Production and Post-Production: Before and After Filming

The production phase is often the most expensive part of creating a TV series, as it involves shooting the actual episodes. Costs include the cast and crew salaries, equipment rentals, location fees, and any necessary set construction. The length and complexity of shooting schedules, as well as the size of the production crew, can significantly impact the overall budget.

The post-production phase involves editing, sound design, visual effects, and several other tasks. If a TV Series involves actors that are particularly hard to book, or if a TV Series is already on air for many years, actors naturally have other interests like other shows, personal time off the screen, and movie work, not to mention other artistic interests like actors that are musicians.

Filming needs to be done swiftly, and then the post-production will take place, working digitally with the content produced during the filming phase. For that reason, post-production can take months, sometimes years, as we have series that even shoot two seasons at once or movies that do it too and shoot two titles of the same franchise at once due to all the above-mentioned factors related to the cast.

Of course, promoting the TV Series is unrelated to the artistic work itself, but it has to be listed on the budget. These days this type of accountancy is a bit more complex because if you consider original shows made for streaming apps, both the income of the company behind it and the expenses come indirectly.

The income comes in the form of subscriptions, and it’s impossible to know perfectly why a subscriber paid for a specific amount of time, as they tend to explore different types of content. Also, the expenses to promote original work can be shared, and packages of ads can be negotiated for more than one title, which makes it harder to calculate these things in 2023 than in the 90s.

However, the costs exist, and marketing expenditures are no joke these days, which makes it even more important to save every penny possible when making TV Series happen.

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