As part of budgeting either an individual production or content costs for a whole TV Channel and its schedule, you must consider the cost of different types of content. Here are a few examples:
In budgeting your costs for News or indeed any programming with a host/presenter it is worth considering how much you are likely to pay them as a part of the production costs. If you are a startup with unknown talent, then you will most likely be able to start everyone off at the same cost, and as ratings data becomes available, recognise individuals’ audience draws through bonuses and contractual awards based on ratings.
Whether News, Factual or Entertainment, If, however you are hiring the very best talent at say $20m per year to appear on a show 5 times a week then you will be spending in the region of $1,282 per minute, before you even factor in other production costs. The fewer appearances that host makes for their money the higher your production costs effectively are.
In budgeting TV Drama, you are entering the realms of production costs akin to small movies for every episode. UK focused budgets will tend to max out at £1m per episode, unless they are a co-production with a US service provider that has a larger market for the content.
The US market has in the last two decades progressively escalated production costs, in the fight to compete for quality, and audience between Channels and Networks. At present, we are knocking on the high side of Stellar budgets for a number of high-profile series, but Stratospheric budgets are not far away in TV Drama, especially in the US market. In fact, we may already be there and are just waiting for budget data to be published. To put the cost of TV Content into perspective, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) currently holds the record for highest production spend on a Feature Film at $378.5m, that’s $2.76m per minute, or $165.6m per hour. How the Home Cinema experience develops in parallel with the pursuit to create TV Content to draw ever larger audiences, will define how those TV content costs and production budgets increase in the future.