Product Placement Creates Big Budget Savings on the Small Screen

The Love Boat sets sail aboard a Princess Cruise Lines ship

The Love Boat set sail in 1977 aboard a Princess Cruise Lines ship — and also cruised into history for what many call “the best product placement ever.” It was a great way to offset a production price of $380,000 per episode. (source) 

Let’s fast forward to today. A single episode of The Crown costs $13 million, while Game of Thrones producers spent $15 million per episode. What about its prequel, House of Dragon? An eye-watering $20 million per episode. (source) 

Products and television have always been intertwined, as many shows in the 1950’s were openly sponsored by brands. Take a trip into the TV history books and you’ll find Texaco Star Theater, The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Hallmark Hall of Fame, and many more. As viewers stopped paying attention to explicit ads, brands and TV producers took an integrated approach, and product placement has become a critical tool for offsetting production costs.  

Most product placement discussions revolve around benefits for brands, but these partnerships are just as valuable for TV producers. Stranger Things is a product placement haven, with Eggo Waffles, KFC, Coca Cola, Nike, Burger King, Adidas, and more making appearances. The series generated a combined $27.4 million in product placement revenue in 2022, which has helped ease a production price tag that grew to $30 million per episode by season four. (source) 

TV production costs are ever-rising for two reasons: to bring a bigger creative vision to life and to keep up with real-world issues like COVID protocols and inflation, which added a combined 30-35% to total budgets in 2022. 

The budget balancing that product placement provides makes it a must-have for producers who want to create must-see shows. 

Ready to learn more? Read how Product Placement helps entertainment peel back the layers of our favorite characters. 

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