Firstly, regardless of the total amount how is the budget for a US TV Season of twenty odd episodes typically broken down? What percentage goes on writing, sets, equipment, actors, etc?

Secondly, how does that compare to the average UK season of maybe six episodes, and in particular how does the breakdown compare in areas like writing, sets, and so on?

I'm expecting that US TV shows spend a greater percentage on actors and sets than UK ones but have no idea if this is really so.

  • Not 100% sure if this should be considered on-topic. This is getting more into the realm of actually producing something.
    – DForck42
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 17:38
  • It specifically says in the FAQ that questions about production are on topic Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 8:26

2 Answers 2


The cheapest TV shows cost around $60,000 per episode (reality shows), but the most expensive go up to $11,000,000 (all seasons of Friends). Pre-recorded broadcast shows with a host and guests cost from $55,000 to $700,000 (main evening show) which makes it difficult to give a true average to answer your question.

A highly-rated TV sitcom--which means the actors are getting a huge amount of cash--adding the salaries of all concerned plus the sets and other fees, has a budget of about $1,000,000 per episode. An average sitcom would be somewhat less.

Most shows do not make a profit until they go into off network syndication. Popular stars of popular sitcoms can make anywhere from $500,000 to millions of dollars per episode. It also depends on language and how popular show is.

See TV Comedy/Budgeting sitcoms

  • 2
    mhhh...your link doesn't say what you say
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 8:48
  • @Oliver_C: yes... different views regarding avg. budget of TV show... See line If I had to guess, I'd say an average would be around $1 million per episode. I have written in my language . :P Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 9:23
  • Also not working in your favor is that page is from 2007.
    – stevvve
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:10
  • And the fact it's just another Q&A site with no known reputation and no sources for that answer... Commented May 28, 2013 at 18:45

In reality http://www.imdb.com/name/nm it depends on director hired for the show and the salaries of emerging directors like Grace Baine could enlist a reality episode cost of 100k per episode on a pilot reality. this is only below the line production cost covering the crew, production set and director

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