Netflix has put out some of the most beloved series of the past decade, but all of those dramas, comedies, and sci-fi epics don't come cheap. The studio regularly spends tens of millions of dollars per season on some of its most prized franchises—as well as a few one-and-done misfires.
The company is famously tight-lipped about its actual budgets, but there have been estimates and leaked reports about the money being spent on these series over the years. Here are just eight of the most expensive Netflix shows ever made.
1. Orange Is the New Black (2013-2019)
Estimated budget: $4 million per episode
Orange Is the New Black is one of Netflix’s first original series, and it was an instant success with viewers when it premiered in 2013. The prison drama reportedly cost Netflix $4 million per episode to make during its debut season, which isn't too unexpected since it had a huge ensemble cast to pay. Later seasons likely cost even more as actors received raises and production quality increased.
2. House of Cards (2013-2018)
Estimated budget: $4.5 million per episode
House of Cards is one of Netflix’s first original series—and the one that really put the company's streaming arm on the map—so of course the company put a lot of money into it. The show reportedly cost $4.5 million per episode to make early on, but it soon went "way above that," according to agent Peter Micelli. We just don't know how far above it eventually went.
3. Bridgerton (2020-present)
Estimated budget: $7 million per episode
Bridgerton season 1 reportedly cost $7 million per episode to make, with much of that likely coming from the various locations and intricate costumes. It’s unclear how much season 2 cost, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to think the budget went up, considering how successful the show has been for Netflix.
Estimated budget: $7-8 million per episode
Bloodline was canceled after just three seasons, and while Netflix never gave a reason why the show was axed, it might not be hard to figure it out. Each episode reportedly cost between $7 million and $8.5 million, but, according to Vulture, it never quite hit the popularity of the company's other shows.
5. Sense8 (2015-2018)
Estimated budget: $9 million per episode
Sense8 was well-received by critics and viewers alike, but the positive response wasn’t enough. The sci-fi show’s production costs—which were reportedly right around $9 million per episode by the second season—were pretty steep, with on-location shooting taking up a huge part of the pie. While it never attracted a big enough audience to continue for a third season, Netflix gave fans a two-and-a-half-hour series finale to wrap things up.
6. The Get Down
Estimated budget: $11 million per episode
The first (and only) season of The Get Down was supposed to cost the streamer around $97 million to make—but it ended up totaling about $120 million for 11 episodes. According to Vanity Fair, there were a number of rewrites, showrunner exits, and other drama that kept running the price tag higher and higher. It shouldn't come as a shock that the show didn't last beyond its freshman year.
7. The Crown (2016-present)
Estimated budget: $13 million per episode
Netflix's prestigious royal drama premiered in November 2016 and was an instant hit. But those opulent sets and costumes come at a cost, and it's been reported that Netflix spent about $13 million per episode to keep the queen in her castle during the first season. (Though, in fairness, series creator Peter Morgan has said the cost is probably closer to half that.) You can imagine that the budget has only gone up over time.
8. Stranger Things (2016-present)
Estimated budget: $30 million per episode (as of season 4)
Stranger Things was always an expensive show to produce—but now it's been reported that the fourth season is officially Netflix's priciest series ever. According to The Wall Street Journal, each episode of the beloved sci-fi/horror series came in at an eye-watering $30 million. This is a huge jump from the first season’s estimated budget of $6 million per episode and season 2’s budget of $8 million.