Despite some notable cut backs and cancellations, streaming services are expected to spend more than ever on original productions next year. A report by Ampere Analysis said that major streaming services including Apple TV+, Amazon, Disney+, HBO Max and Netflix will spend more than $23 billion on original content next year, according to the Financial Times. That’s 10 percent more than this year’s spending, and more than double what the companies spent on original content in 2019.
As consumers cut down on their monthly subscriptions, streamers are fighting to retain their audiences and steal new ones. That means spending on big, attention-grabbing productions like HBO Max’s House of Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel series, which will cost $20 million per episode, and Amazon’s Rings of Power, the Lord of the Rings prequel series, which will cost $58 million per episode for a promised five seasons.
“Blockbusters are the best way to keep your subscribers,” Robert Thompson, Syracuse University professor of television and popular culture, told the Financial Times. “If the studios have to cut budgets, it will be on the shows that have smaller budgets — the quirky, smaller shows that have enriched the streaming experience.”
Among the casualties of budget cutting so far are shows and movies including Batgirl, a $90 million movie in post-production; Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, Demimonde and many animated shows like Summer Camp Island.
Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav is trying to save $3 billion by 2024 by cutting projects, and by removing its own titles from HBO Max. Disney lowered its projection for film and TV spending by $1 billion this year, though the company will still spend $7 billion more than last year. Netflix curtailed its expenses in part by laying off 150 people in May after subscription growth slowed.
But despite those cuts, HBO Max and Amazon will spend the most in 2023 on original content, at more than $6 billion and $5 billion respectively, according to Ampere. Ampere’s data shows Netflix still leads the pack with most new titles, doubling Amazon’s total, which comes in second.