As Walt Disney, AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Apple prepare to enter the crowded streaming-entertainment market, they are racing to stand out with eye-catching shows that cost as much for a season as a big-budget movie [Editor’s note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: These new services are hoping their planned television epics will capture the cultural conversation, like “Game of Thrones” did. They are also hoping to convince subscribers that their offerings are worth paying for in a market dominated by Netflix, HBO and Hulu. The competition is prompting newcomers to shell out between $8 million and $15 million an episode, significantly more than what the average TV show used to cost. For a single season, after including marketing and other expenses, the total can easily exceed $150 million — or roughly what it costs to put a new “Spider-Man” movie in theaters nationwide. When Netflix began making “House of Cards” in 2013 at $4.5 million an episode, it looked like a costly bet. Now, Disney has built intergalactic-desert landscapes for the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian,” whose cost for an episode approaches $15 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon.com spent $250 million just for the rights to develop a “Lord of the Rings” series. Apple signed up “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa for its fantasy series “See,” while Showtime has the videogame adaptation “Halo” and Warner Bros. prepares Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” With massive casts, exotic filming locations and copious special effects, budgets have ballooned to amounts once considered unfathomable for a TV show. One driving factor, executives say, is that high-profile TV shows are offered up next to theatrical films available to stream on the same service, so original programming can’t risk looking like B-material next to the movies.
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