From Game of Thrones to Star Wars’ The Mandalorian, we are firmly entrenched in the era of blockbuster television. These days, it isn’t uncommon to roll out a flashy new series with the budget of a summer blockbuster tentpole. But even within the context of the marketplace’s costly demands, Apple (AAPL)’s free-flowing spending is downright surprising.
Back in 2017, we knew Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s The Morning Show stirred up quite the bidding war among streaming and cable competitors. Eventually, Apple won out with a full two-season order of 20 total episodes with Season 2 premiering in fall 2020. Now, we have an idea of exactly how much that victory cost the tech-giant as it prepares to launch its streaming service, Apple TV+, at an unspecified date this fall.
The first two seasons of The Morning Show reportedly cost $300 million to produce, according to a recent report from Bloomberg. That’s $15 million per episode, roughly the same cost as the final season of Game of Thrones. Then again, the talent costs are enormous for The Morning Show. Aniston and Witherspoon, who are both also serving as executive producers, are reportedly earning $1.25 million per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s good for $25 million all in.
And that easily tops the $500,000 per episode the main cast of GoT received for the final two seasons and all of the cast salaries for Netflix (NFLX)’s Stranger Things. It’s roughly in line with what Hulu paid George Clooney to co-star and executive produce the six-episode miniseries Catch-22. It also tops Witherspoon’s impressive $1 million per episode salary for the second season of HBO’s Big Little Lies.
Apple TV+ will reportedly cost $9.99 per month (a mistake in our opinion), though that has not been officially confirmed. Despite the lack of specificity, the streamer has amassed an impressive collection of talent ahead of its launch. The platform will feature content from Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Oprah Winfrey and more A-list names. It will be made available on all active Apple devices, which total more than one billion worldwide. The Financial Times recently reported that Apple has committed $6 billion to original shows and movies, though that has not been officially confirmed.
Apple may not have much experience in the original programming realm nor does it possess a back catalog of attractive library programming. But with that kind of potential market penetration and an unlimited reserve of resources, it should not be underestimated in the streaming wars.