Report: Man in the High Castle costing Amazon a ton in relation to actual viewership

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Mar 15, 2018

We don’t know whether the upcoming third season of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle will draw the kind of eyeballs Amazon Video is hoping for if it wants to pull some of Netflix’s audience to its side. But thanks to a new report, we do have a pretty good idea of how committed Amazon must be to soldiering on with Philip K Dick’s tale of what the U.S. might have looked like if the Nazis had won out.

Whatever the show may yield in terms of viewership, Castle is costing Amazon a ton of money to make. Reuters reports that Amazon spent $107 million on Season 2, a figure that averages out to just more than $10 million for each of the season’s 10 episodes. And even though Amazon spent less — and drew more viewers — for Season 1, the development of a third season indicates the service appears to be doubling down on giving the show a prominent role in its strategy to woo new subscribers.

While there’s so far been a diminishing-returns proposition for the duration of the two years the show has lingered on the service, Castle nevertheless has served as a gateway for viewers to buy into the company’s overall digital package. In its first season, Amazon spent a reported $72 million on the show, and was rewarded with an estimated 8 million viewers — 1.15 million of which were new subscribers, according to Reuters

By comparison, the numbers for Season 2 look profligate. At $107 million in overall costs, the service spent an estimated $830 per viewer to get each episode of the show up and running, compared with the mere $63 per-viewer outlay Amazon enjoyed with Castle’s first season. 

But with Season 3 on the way, and no evidence that Amazon has scaled back its ambitions on the production side, it appears that Amazon, just like Netflix, Disney, CBS, DC, and others, still is betting big on genre content. Add in the fact that Amazon only recently shelled out a quarter of a billion dollars just for the rights to develop an all-new Lord of the Rings series, and it looks as though fantasy, sci-fi, and horror are nowhere close to overstaying their welcome.

It’s been since October of 2017 since we’ve heard much from Amazon on where Season 3 is headed, so the announcement of a release date at any moment wouldn’t surprise us. Until then, you can catch up on the first two seasons on Amazon Video, and speculate on how John Smith (Rufus Sewell) will handle his home-grown rise through the American Nazi ranks.