How to budget a TV show

budget a tv show minionBefore a TV show is even commissioned knowing how to budget a tv show is essential. As you can imagine, if a production is under-budgeted for, there will be serious problems right from the get go. So, this is why knowing how to a TV show is an extremely important part of the development process and needs to be done by someone with great expertise in the area.

What factors are taken into consideration when planning how to budget a tv show?

When you are looking to budget a TV show, there are several factors that will be taken into consideration. Usually, the producer has a big say in the budget and there is generally a set procedure now for how to go about it. However, it is really useful to know what majorly influences a TV show budget.

Genre of the TV Show

Generally, dramas have the highest budgets and the bigger the cast, or more locations that need to be shot will increase the budget drastically. If the show is a special one-off episode or will be broadcasted on a Bank Holiday or special day, the show will then be classed as a premium drama and the budget will increase accordingly.

Broadcast Time

Most viewers tune into their favourite shows between 7pm and 10pm and so this period of time has been determined as “primetime”. Therefore, shows broadcasted in these hours will need a bigger budget, as they will be a very competitive spot. Daytime TV shows will have a significantly lower budget.

Duration of the show

When you budget a TV show, you will need to make note of how long each episode will be. Generally, an hour’s slot will be allocated to a show that is typically around 42 minutes long, allowing time for advertisements. Again, depending on the time the show is broadcasted, companies will pay more for an advertising slot during primetime shows. Likewise, a 30-minute slot usually hosts a 21-minute show.

Broadcasting Channel

Whether your show will be broadcast on a local channel or a premium cable channel will drastically change your budget. Those channels which rely on the revenue of advertisers are actually more interested in the demographic of their viewers rather than the total number. Viewers of ages 18-49 are more attractive to advertisers, as they are more likely to purchase their goods.

Tips for how to budget a TV show

Now you know what factors are taken into consideration when you budget a TV show, you can make a budget more appropriately. It is not an easy job, so we hope these tips will help you along the way.

1. Budget in portions

Rather than trying to tackle things in one go, break them down into bite sized portions. Don’t move on until you have the answers you require and then things will be more manageable.

2. Be realistic

Be clear with your production team, what really can be achieved within a budget. Also, you need to realise that surprises do happen, so your budget needs to be a little cautious. It cannot hurt to think about the worst case scenario and take that into consideration.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for support

Remember, you are not infallible and you are also not made of money. So, don’t be scared to ask for support in any area you might require. You can never get too much help when trying to budget a TV show, so don’t be afraid to accept what you can get!

Tools for budgeting a TV show

You can download budget guides below, you can find more tool by going here


BBC Budget Template

 ITV Budget Template (macros may not work on mac)

Channel 4 Budget Template

Channel 5 Budget Template


A copy of the tariff_prices_for_independents for BBC programs (Published 2010)

More from gassProductions

For more advice and tips on how to pitch a tv show you can view our blog article on how to create a tv show part 1 and 2 and advice on how to pitch your tv idea.

There’s more advice on how to get into the video production industry via our recent GenTalk blog article.

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