How Expensive Is ‘Dancing With The Stars?’ Estimated Cost As Series Eyes Production Start Date

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Fans may be a bit apprehensive about Season 29 of “Dancing With the Stars” following quite a bit of turmoil in recent weeks, but the ABC competition series is preparing to move full-steam ahead with episodes produced and hopefully airing this Fall.

According to Deadline, the long-running series is looking to begin production on new episodes in September, providing necessary health and safety protocols can be met, and things are still fluid for the entire Fall schedule because of the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 virus, which forced production on film and TV sets to shut down in March, and has led to countless new protocols to be taken everywhere as production starts to ramp up again.

It’s still unclear if the show will continue showing live episodes, or if one of the precautions taken will see it going to a pre-taped format for the safety of the cast and crew.

However the show returns, it will likely need to cut costs somewhere because of the precautions that have to be put in place due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, this could mean some more changes fans won’t like, as the show can be very expensive to produce episodes of.

Fans are already upset following the ouster of hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews in favor of Tyra Banks, but removing the two hosts could have been one way to save some money. It’s unconfirmed what either Andrews or Bergeron made, though it has been reported that Bergeron earned approximately $150,000 per episode. If he and Andrews made near similar amounts, even if Banks makes the same amount of money as he did, it will still be a cost-effective measure for the show.

The host salaries aren’t the only ones to consider either. The judges also need to be paid for their work, and while their salaries are also unconfirmed, it was reported that Bruno Tonioli makes $30,000 per episode. If all three judges make an equal amount, the $90,000 payout per episode comes to $900,000 in a 10-episode season. The rest of the show’s crew, including costume designers, makeup artists, backup dancers, camera operators, producers, designers and musicians also take home paychecks.

The series also has to pay its staff of pro dancers, who all likely make different amounts depending on what their individual contracts might state. Factors like the number of seasons they have competed are likely a part of their salary, and it has been previously reported that some of the veterans could make as much as $5,200 per episode. While it’s unknown what she was making, her high salary is the reason Sharna Burgess was cut from the pro lineup for Season 28, despite her winning Season 27 of the show.

In addition, the cast is also paid for their time on the show, with a reported sliding scale determining how much each celebrity made. The celebrities who all made it through to the finals are reported to take home the same amount of money, which used to total an estimated $345,000 each. However, ahead of Season 28, the max total amount each finalist could make was reportedly cut down to $295,000. However, with anywhere between 3-4 finalists per season, that amount could easily max out between $885,000-$1,180,000.

The many people who bring the show to life are not the only expenses the show has. The series has long been known for flashy sets, spray tans, and of course, a wide variety of costumes. While money spent on things like costumes may have also changed over the years, back in 2008, it was reported that individual costumes could cost between $3,000-$5,000 each—and they are generally only used once. With 12 celebrity teams competing, that cost can add up significantly as well. On just the first week of competition, it could be a minimum of 24 costumes—costing a total of $72,000-$120,000. While the number of competitors goes down each week, the number of routines can increase, which could mean roughly that amount is spent each week—if that is the case, a 10-week season could see a total costume budget of $720,000-$1,200,000.

If all of those numbers still applied today and Season 29 was still the same in terms of the numbers of costumes, celebrities and full payouts, then the full budget for a season would be more than $6,904,000.

It is unclear, if production did start in September, when the episodes would air.

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