- Netflix reportedly spent $21.4 million on "Squid Game," its biggest hit series ever.
- It's a small sum compared to some of Netflix's other hits like "Stranger Things" and "The Crown."
- Streaming shows at other companies like Disney and Apple have movie-like budgets.
The surge in streaming platforms in recent years has caused a content arms race, inflating costs as media companies try to lure subscribers with big-budget IP.
But the biggest show in the world right now, Netflix's "Squid Game," isn't based on any pre-existing IP and it cost a small sum in comparison to other streaming hits.
The streamer spent $21.4 million on the hit Korean-language series, Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw reported on Wednesday, based on internal documents he obtained. Netflix declined to comment on the figure upon Insider's request.
Netflix announced on Tuesday that "Squid Game" was its biggest hit series ever, with 111 million member households watching it since its debut on September 17 (Netflix counts a view if an account watches at least two minutes of a show or movie). The streamer's second biggest series, "Bridgerton," was watched by 82 million members in its first month.
Netflix is investing heavily in the show's home country of South Korea, committing to $500 million in the region this year, according to Variety.
But at nine episodes, "Squid Game" cost Netflix about $2.4 million per episode – a much smaller sum than some of the company's other hit shows.
"Stranger Things" and "The Crown" cost $8 million and $10 million an episode, respectively, Variety reported in 2017. For comparison, "Stranger Things" season three is Netflix's sixth biggest launch and no season of "The Crown" is in the top 10 (though season four won this year's best drama series Emmy award).
At Disney+, Marvel shows like "WandaVision" and "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" have movie-sized price tags, costing "as much as $25 million per episode," the Hollywood Reporter wrote in 2019. The first season of the "Star Wars" series "The Mandalorian" had a budget of $15 million an episode, according to THR, which would price the entire eight-episode season at $120 million.
Tech giants like Apple and Amazon have also dropped heaps of cash to build up their streaming businesses. Amazon is spending $465 million on season one of its upcoming "Lord of the Rings" TV series, according to THR, which includes the $250 million it spent on the rights.
"The Morning Show" cost Apple $300 million for two seasons, according to several outlets, including Bloomberg and THR ($15 million per episode for 20 episodes, on par with the "Star Wars" show). The show's executive producer Mimi Leder pushed back on that figure in an interview with Insider ahead of Apple TV+'s debut in 2019, but didn't reveal a number.
- "Lord of the Rings" (Amazon Prime Video) – $465 million for first season (including $250 million for the series rights)
- "WandaVision" and "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" (Disney+) – $25 million per episode
- "The Mandalorian" (Disney+) – $15 million per episode
- "The Morning Show" (Apple TV+) – $15 million per episode
- "The Crown" (Netflix) – $10 million per episode
- "Stranger Things" (Netflix) – $8 million per episode
- "Squid Game" – $2.4 million per episode ($21.4 million for nine episodes)