If you're like me, then you probably wonder whether or not Game of Thrones, despite being a critically acclaimed mega-hit, even makes its money back for HBO. After all, the set locations look like Hollywood blockbusters, the CGI usage is abundant, it was streamed over a billion times illegally by people who didn't pony up a dime, and there's approximately a million characters played by actors who reportedly rake in six figures per episode.
Seasons 2 to 5 are said to have had a budget of roughly $8 million per episode; that cost was bumped up to $10 million per episode for season 6. Unsurprisingly, that rising trend will continue, as the series' final season—the big 8—will allegedly cost $15 million per episode. That figure came courtesy of a Variety story that explores the ever-expanding budget for TV productions, which has been driven up by streaming services grabbing such a massive share of the marketplace.
As they wrote about GoT:
And then there’s “Game of Thrones,” the reigning king of big-budget dramas. The $15 million-plus price tag is due in part to a shooting schedule that more resembles that of a feature film than an episodic series. But “Thrones” is an anomaly. When it debuted, its price tag was in line with what HBO typically spends on dramas, around $6 million or so. But as the program grew into a four-continent behemoth with multiple production units shooting at once, it also began to generate dozens of healthy revenue streams for HBO. Its merchandising lines and foreign sales have brought plenty of gold to the network, and it’s been an effective branding flagship as the premium cabler transitions into the nonlinear age with HBO Now.
Sort of makes you wonder when the TV bubble is going to burst.