A lot of noise has been made about how much Netflix is spending in order to attract new subscribers and expand into new regions of the world.
A Los Angeles Times report titled “Netflix is $20 billion in debt” renewed worries that the company was pushing too hard, too fast. First of all, that’s technically wrong, as Netflix has some debt but is mostly tied up with deals to pay for non-original TV shows. Secondly, that spending is part of a plan that, if successful, will make Netflix a major media power for decades to come.
If the list below of its most expensive shows seems dominated by some that didn’t quite make it … that’s ’cause it is. Netflix has canceled a variety of its high-profile, costly shows.
Don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Ted Sarandos, head of content at Netflix, said earlier this year that the company’s “hit ratio is way too high right now,” meaning, in his view, the company isn’t taking nearly enough chances with its original content.
Let’s take a quick look at what all that money buys.
1. The Crown
You know your show has a big budget when you have to push back against assertions that it’s the most expensive show ever made.
The Crown‘s budget was initially reported at $130 million for Season 1, and Season 2 isn’t going to come cheap.
Netflix has had a variety of hits and critically acclaimed shows, but it’s still working on making that true breakout hit to rival Game of Thrones. The Crown, a hit with critics, was another entry into that field.
2. The Get Down
By some estimates, The Get Down was more expensive than The Crown.
Considering it turned out to be a huge flop that Netflix canceled after one season, even if it did technically cost less, The Get Down is probably the costliest show for Netflix.
The first season ended up draining about $120 million from Netflix.
Netflix’s most audacious sci-fi effort to date lasted two expensive seasons.
Sense8 reportedly cost around $9 million per episode. At that rate, the first season of Sense8took $108 million out of Netflix.
4. Marco Polo
Marco Polo was essentially meant to be Game of Thrones. It never quite got there.
The show reportedly cost $90 million for its 10-episode run, which wasn’t met with much enthusiasm.
Like Sense8, the show never made it past its second season.
5. House of Cards
Netflix wasn’t messing around with its first original show.
House of Cards featured Hollywood stars, an Academy Award-nominated director in David Fincher, and an all-too familiar plot line (or at least that’s how it seems now).
Those things don’t come cheap, and Netflix found out the hard way. The show was initially reported to have a $50 million budget for the first season — which director David Fincher battled Netflix over.
Unlike shows two through four on this list, however, House of Cards has proven to be a hit, with the show already through its fifth season.