Netflix has come a long, long way from when it first began. At its onset, the streaming media service only seemed to offer movies that were highly dated, and many questioned whether a membership to the service would be worthwhile or not. However, over time Netflix began to offer newer films and – even better than that – offered a wide selection of television shows that people could binge watch. At that point, Netflix was slowly but surely becoming a staple in homes. However, Netflix’s even bigger win came when it began creating its own original series that people were getting utterly hooked on. The company began producing original content in early 2013 with one of its most sensational hits to date, political drama House of Cards, which allegedly cost about $60 million to create. The success it received from the show backed the notion that it should continue to follow this path for developing new viewer content.
Shockingly to some, these Netflix original series – some extremely popular, and others which have received tepid reviews from critics – are coming in at very high production costs, rivaling even big-spending series like HBO’s Game of Thrones. The company has often remained mum on specifics behind their spending.
According to estimates, here are the 10 most expensive Netflix original series the company has created to date, and some insight into what they’re all about:
10. Between – Around $20M Per Season
Between debuted in May of this year, and is thought to have cost the streaming service approximately $20 million to create in its first season. The series is a science fiction drama and is based on a town, Pretty Lake, that is trying to handle a disease in part through quarantine that is killing everyone over the age of 21. Between is financed and produced collectively by Netflix and City TV, a Canadian television network, and is the first of Netflix’s original series to do so. The show’s high costs could be attributed, in part, to its shooting locations in Canada. While the production cost is high, in the broader scheme of things, it is relatively low when compared to other Netflix series. Though the premise of the series was found to be enticing, many critics did not feel the show lives up to it, with one critic noting it “lacks a compelling hook.”
9. Bloodline – Around $20M Per Season
Exact figures for the series Bloodline have not been disclosed by Netflix executives, though rough estimates show the series is coming in at around $20 million per season, just like Between. The series is centered on a family based in the Florida Keys, and the son, Danny, who returns home acts out against the remainder of the family, stirs up family drama and secrets, and gets caught up in the criminal world. Bloodline has been critically acclaimed for both its writing and its acting. Critics have called the series such things as “addictive” and “compelling.” The series hit Netflix in its entirely in early 2015, and was renewed for a second season set to be released in 2016.
8. Narcos – Around $25M Per Season
Netflix has not officially released figures on the cost of their original series, Narcos, though reports suspect the series cost them about $25 million for its first season, which began streaming in August of this year. The series is intended to be loosely based on drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel, an organized network of drug suppliers and smugglers out of Colombia. It also focuses on United States DEA agents. The show is part of a partnership between Netflix and Telemundo. It was shot on location in Colombia in order to exude the utmost authenticity. It has received favorable reviews, for the most part. It was announced that it will be coming back for a second, and likely equally expensive, season in 2016.
7. The Crown – Around $25M Per Season
While the series is still in production and has yet to premiere on Netflix, cost estimates have rolled in for the upcoming series The Crown, and it is thought the series will cost about $25 million per season. The series is set to be a biographical show on the royal family, specifically following the happenings of Queen Elizabeth II throughout the decades. The series, to be premiered in early 2016, is based on a play by Peter Morgan called, “The Audience.” Beyond the story of the Queen, the series will highlight the broader goings-on of Buckingham Palace, as well, and will help viewers see how England was defined throughout the latter half of the 20th century. It can be assumed costs involved are heightened due to location shoots and what are likely to be extravagant costume designs.
6. Marvel’s Daredevil – $40M Per Season
Daredevil is another on the list of expensive Netflix original series. It’s thought the series cost about $40 million to produce per season. The show is centered on Matt Murdock, also known as the Daredevil, who is a lawyer by day, but also fights crime as his alter ego. The series, which is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, focuses on the character’s early days of fighting crime. It is filmed in New York City, and is intended to show the character fighting crime in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood (though filming takes places in spots elsewhere in the city). Daredevil premiered in April 2015 and was renewed for a second season to be released next year. Overall, people have loved the show. Aside from being nominated for a variety of prestigious awards, it also received a 98% approval rating on the often-harsh review website, Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Orange Is The New Black – Around $50M Per Season
Likely one of the most endeared series created by Netflix and its most watched, Orange is the New Black, comes with a hefty price tag. It is estimated that each season costs roughly $50 million to create. The series is based on the memoir of the same title that documents Piper Kerman’s (Piper Chapman in the show) time spent in a minimum-security federal prison. The show is filmed in an old children’s psychiatric center in Rockland County, NY. The show premiered in July 2013, and hooked audiences right away. In fact, the creators may have known they had a hit on their hands before the show even premiered, as it was renewed for its second season before it ever streamed to audiences. Now, the series is going on its fourth season. The series isn’t only beloved by viewers, it has also received critical acclaim. It has won a variety of awards, including Emmys and Critics Choice Television awards.
4. Hemlock Grove – Around $50M Per Season
Hemlock Grove is about to premiere its third season, but each season comes with a giant cost. Estimations show the series, just like Orange is the New Black, costs about $50 million per season to create. The filming for the series takes place in a small town in Ontario, made to look like the show’s town, Hemlock Grove. The series is a horror/thriller based on a novel of the same name. The show spotlights the fictional town in Pennsylvania that is experiencing a series of murders, and the show’s main characters work to bring the truth behind these murders to light. The show first hit Netflix in mid-2013, and developed a loyal fan base. On the opposite side, the show was also met with select criticism from reviewers, some of whom believed the show lacked a real horror value, and fell flat in its genre.
3. House Of Cards – Around $60M Per Season
One of Netflix’s most notorious and beloved shows, House of Cards is simply not cheap. It’s estimated the series – now in its 4th season – costs approximately $60 million per season to make, thanks to casting some popular and well-known talent and the various places the show chooses to shoot. But, the viewers love it. House of Cards revolves around politician, Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey), who is passed over for the position of Secretary of State, and then embarks on a mission to get himself into a position of power in Washington. Viewers were hooked from the very beginning. The series’ first season received nine Emmy nominations and won three. It also won other awards, including one from the Writers Guild of America and a Golden Globe.
2. Marco Polo – $90M Per Season
People became instantly curious about the show Marco Polo when Netflix announced it as the show’s high production cost became public. According to reports, the show costs roughly $90 million per season to create, making it one of the most expensive TV shows ever. The show is a drama loosely based on the early years of Marco Polo. It premiered on Netflix in December 2014. Again, costs can be assumed to skyrocket in part due to attempting to reenact setting and costume of the time. While production costs were high, the series was met with lukewarm reactions from viewers and critics, many of whom find the show to be boring. These reviews aren’t holding Netflix back from continuing to devote money to the series, however, and it was renewed for a second season which has yet to air.
1. Sense8 – Over $100M To Produce
Once again, while it is difficult to determine the exact cost to create each season of the series without a figure from Netflix executives, it’s estimated Sense8 runs at somewhere between $100 million to $200 million per season. This estimation is based on a quote from Netflix Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, who has said, “from a budget standpoint and a running time, it’s every bit as big, if not bigger, than their feature films.” Here, he is referring to the films Jupiter Ascending, which cost $176 million to make, and Cloud Atlas, which cost $102 million to make. If the CCO’s quote is to be believed, the series would fall right in that high $100 million range. As background, the series is classified as a science fiction drama, and is focused on eight strangers from different parts of the world who suddenly become linked, both mentally and emotionally. The show’s name is a play on the word “sensate,” which means perceiving or perceived by the senses. Sense8’s first season became available on Netflix on June 5 of this year, and it has already been announced that there will be a second season.