Netflix turned the TV world upside down last year when it ended HBO’s 18-year stretch of earning the most Emmy nominations. However, the streaming giant spent a pretty penny to do so, as much as $85 million per 2018 nomination compared to HBO’s more economical $23 million per nod, according to data from The Motley Fool.
This year, HBO reclaimed its spot as the most-nominated network, making history with a jaw-dropping 137 Emmy nominations, but Netflix is still nipping at their heels with an impressive 117 nominations of their own. But how much did they each spend per Emmy nomination this time around? What about Netflix’s streaming peers Hulu and Amazon?
We crunched the numbers, and here’s what we found.
Who Spent the Most Per Emmy Nomination?
In 2018, Netflix spent about $14 billion on content, according to the company’s annual report. Some of that goes toward licensing content and some goes toward original content that can’t get nominated, and of course, some of the 2019 Emmy-eligible content had its production costs paid for prior to 2018. In other words, this isn’t a foolproof scientific analysis, but it’s a fun exercise at getting a decent estimate at how efficiently the various streaming services and TV networks are creating quality content.
As it turns out, the major streaming services aren’t very efficient at all when it comes to creating great content.
Netflix spent a little over $120 million per Emmy nomination, up 41% from last year’s $85 million for each nod. That’s 7.5x more than HBO spent per nomination.
But they weren’t even the worst offender. Hulu, who received 20 nominations and had a 2018 budget of $2.5 billion, spent $125 million for each of its nominations.
Rounding out the major streaming services, Amazon’s 47 Emmy nominations cost the company $106 million a piece.
HBO spent roughly $2.2 billion on content last year, and their 137 nominations cost the network just under $16 million each, a bargain compared to the spending of the major on-demand streaming services.
Is It Time to Tighten the Purse Strings?
The past few years have been the era of big spending in the TV industry, and it has been led in large part by Netflix and their streaming counterparts. Netflix and its peers have been operating with an open checkbook in recent years, spending billions upon billions of dollars on content, the bulk of which has gone toward financing original TV series and movies (Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series is said to be the most expensive show ever made). It was a move born of necessity as the streaming services have struggled to maintain rights to (also expensive) licensed content.
But the results of spending so much on original content have been decidedly mixed. Netflix is burning billions in cash, and they’ve just come off a massively disappointing quarter where they missed new subscriber expectations by nearly 50%. The company has had to raise prices to help finance its ever-growing content budget, and a significant number of subscribers are starting to feel the service is too expensive.
In other words, this kind of spending hasn’t been very cost-effective by multiple metrics, and with recent reports that Netflix may be slowing down spending on its original content, it seems maybe the execs at the company are starting to agree. With Disney+ on the horizon, smart spending is more important than ever.