Television has come a long way since its inception, with various TV shows leaving an indelible mark in the history of entertainment. However, not all shows make it big at the start, and some have even faced the risk of bankrupting their networks before they became popular. Here are ten of the most expensive TV shows that almost bankrupted NBC before they became popular.
- Seinfeld: When Seinfeld was first pitched to NBC in 1988, the network wasn’t sure what to make of the show’s quirky humor. But, despite concerns, the show eventually became a hit, and by its ninth and final season, NBC was able to charge advertisers up to $1 million for a 30-second spot.
- Friends: Friends premiered in 1994 and was an instant hit with viewers. But, at the time, it was one of the most expensive shows on television, with the cast earning a reported $1 million per episode by the end of the series.
- ER: When ER premiered in 1994, it was a risky investment for NBC, as the show’s pilot alone cost a reported $13 million. However, the gamble paid off, and the show became a ratings juggernaut, making NBC a fortune over its 15-season run.
- The West Wing: The West Wing debuted in 1999 and was an instant critical success, winning numerous awards and nominations. However, with its large ensemble cast and elaborate sets, the show was one of the most expensive on television at the time.
- Frasier: Frasier was a spinoff of Cheers and premiered in 1993. While the show was a hit with audiences and critics alike, it was also one of the most expensive shows on television, with the cast reportedly earning $1.6 million per episode in the show’s final season.
- Miami Vice: Miami Vice premiered in 1984 and was a groundbreaking show in terms of style and production values. However, the show’s elaborate sets and use of music made it one of the most expensive shows on television at the time, almost bankrupting NBC in the process.
- Hill Street Blues: Hill Street Blues premiered in 1981 and was a critical darling, winning multiple Emmys and Golden Globes. However, the show’s unique storytelling style and use of multiple cameras made it one of the most expensive shows on television, with each episode costing over $1 million to produce.
- L.A. Law: L.A. Law premiered in 1986 and was a hit with audiences and critics alike, but it was also one of the most expensive shows on television at the time, with the cast reportedly earning up to $500,000 per episode.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987 and was a critical and commercial success. However, the show’s elaborate sets, special effects, and makeup made it one of the most expensive shows on television at the time.
- Quantum Leap: Quantum Leap premiered in 1989 and was a unique show in terms of storytelling, with the main character, Dr. Sam Beckett, “leaping” into the bodies of different people throughout history. However, the show’s elaborate sets and special effects made it one of the most expensive shows on television at the time.
In conclusion, these ten TV shows may have been expensive and risky investments for NBC, but they eventually paid off, becoming some of the most successful and beloved shows in television history. Despite their initial costs, they paved the way for future television shows and inspired new styles and formats in the industry.