How Much Is Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Paying to Produce Original Shows?

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Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to the costs of producing fresh content for its own exclusive use. But third parties are spilling the beans.

A self-described "super agent" at a major Hollywood talent agency just provided detailed estimates on what Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) pays per episode of this year's new in-house shows. And the company isn't skimping on budgets: The "cheapest" show on deck would be prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black, which costs about $3.8 million per episode.

The numbers, please Here's the cost per show, according to Creative Artists Agency agent Peter Micelli, by way of a report in Variety :

Show Genre Cost Per Episode Cost Per Season
House of Cards Political drama "Way above" $4.5 million More than $60 million
Hemlock Grove Werewolf horror About $4 million $52 million
Orange Is the New Black Prison drama/comedy Just under $4 million $49 million

These are not hard numbers straight from the source, but Micelli's estimates presumably based on discussions with Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and other stakeholders. CAA is one of the "big four" talent agencies, and even though Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) seems to have chosen actors from other agencies in most cases, you can safely assume that CAA sat at every show's negotiating table.

Agents certainly have a clue what the going rate for acting services is, and you can't consider a 13-episode role without knowing something about the production values surrounding the cast as well. Moreover, CAA knows plenty about the television industry, managing big names such as David Letterman and Ryan Seacrest when it isn't busy launching the Oprah Winfrey Network or hit shows such as House and American Idol. That's why I think Micelli should have a better view of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)'s production budgets than most of us mere mortals.

Whoa, doggie! Will production costs eat Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) alive?

Isn't that a bit high, though? These figures are a bit higher than the rumors you've seen elsewhere. House of Cards was supposed to be the big-ticket title at roughly $100 million for two seasons, but Micelli's figure is at least 20% higher. And all three of the shows he discussed broadly match the oft-guessed figures for House of Cards. If this agent is anywhere near the real figures, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is spending way more on these shows that analysts and pundits have been assuming so far.

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