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25 of the most expensive TV series of all time

Stacker Logo By Angela Underwood of Stacker | Slide 1 of 26: Binging on television shows is one of the great new American pastimes, with the average household peaking around 2010 with more than eight collective hours of TV-watching per day. And that doesn't even take into account the countless streaming options available. Netflix boasts more than 60 million subscribers in the U.S. alone, while Amazon and Hulu are collecting millions of viewers each year.

But TV is a numbers game in more ways than one. Creating intricate sets, using new visual effects, and paying famous actors make television an expensive enterprise. Some of the biggest numbers in show budgets are on actors' paychecks: In the 1990s, well-known stars like Kelsey Grammer were getting $1.6 million for each episode while Jennifer Aniston and her five "Friends" raked in up to $1 million per episode. Today, even relatively unknown stars like Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in "Game of Thrones," make $500,000 per episode, revealing paying talent top dollar has not changed.

"Band of Brothers" was among the first big-budget shows not on major network television when it began its run on HBO in the late 1990s with an almost unheard of budget of $12 million per episode. Having Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg attached to the project pushed HBO into funding it. The network has since spent even more on making shows like "The Pacific" and "Game of Thrones."

To find out the top 25 most-expensive TV series of all time, Stacker conducted independent research via news reports and entertainment outlets and ranked the shows by budget. Ties were not broken when shows shared the same budget. Read on to discover which shows cross the $10 million-per-episode budget threshold—and which takes the cake, with a budget of a whopping $21.7 million per episode.

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25 of the most expensive TV series of all time

Binging on television shows is one of the great new American pastimes, with the average household peaking around 2010 with more than eight collective hours of TV-watching per day. And that doesn't even take into account the countless streaming options available. Netflix boasts more than 60 million subscribers in the U.S. alone, while Amazon and Hulu are collecting millions of viewers each year.

But TV is a numbers game in more ways than one. Creating intricate sets, using new visual effects, and paying famous actors make television an expensive enterprise. Some of the biggest numbers in show budgets are on actors' paychecks: In the 1990s, well-known stars like Kelsey Grammer were getting $1.6 million for each episode while Jennifer Aniston and her five "Friends" raked in up to $1 million per episode. Today, even relatively unknown stars like Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in "Game of Thrones," make $500,000 per episode, revealing paying talent top dollar has not changed.

"Band of Brothers" was among the first big-budget shows not on major network television when it began its run on HBO in the late 1990s with an almost unheard of budget of $12 million per episode. Having Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg attached to the project pushed HBO into funding it. The network has since spent even more on making shows like "The Pacific" and "Game of Thrones."

To find out the top 25 most-expensive TV series of all time, Stacker conducted independent research via news reports and entertainment outlets and ranked the shows by budget. Ties were not broken when shows shared the same budget. Read on to discover which shows cross the $10 million-per-episode budget threshold—and which takes the cake, with a budget of a whopping $21.7 million per episode.

 

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