The last few years have seen some new major shows being released on streaming services, and production budgets are at an all-time high. Budgets for all-new series in 2020, including scripted, unscripted, daytime, and kids, was up 16.4% in 2020 reaching $220.2 billion, according to data by Purely Streamonomics. This year is only supposed to soar higher with the total spend estimated to pass $250 billion in 2021. The pressure to create outstanding new content is on as viewer demand is at a high, and new streaming services keep popping up right and left.
Disney+ was the biggest spender of 2020. The Walt Disney Company had a grossed-up total of $28.6 billion for 2020. Warner / Discovery was a close second spending $20.8 billion, while Netflix spent $15.1 billion.
The shows with the highest budgets in 2020 were Disney+’s Wandavision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, both part of the MCU. Each episode for both series had a budget of $25 million, nearly twice as much as the first season of The Mandalorian from the previous year. The pandemic only seemed to escalate the trend of increased production budgets as entertainment-starved viewers were eager for more content.
The new standard seems to have been set with the high-budget MCU series. This year’s Apple TV+ series Masters of The Air has a budget of $22.5 million
“In TV and film, this budget inflation has largely been created by two main factors: streamers and producers fighting for talent exclusivity, especially with regard to contracting top names and locking them in for future seasons of a show, and the necessary hike in production costs in order to deliver lavish, glossy and impactful shows that really stand-out in the marketplace and act as subscription drivers to a platform, such as Disney+’s The Mandalorian or Wandavision,” the report states.
The pandemic also played a part in budget inflation, as introducing new Covid safety regulations and protocola accounted for 20%-30% of show budgets.