NBC’s Golden ‘Voice': Very Popular and Very Expensive — With Robert Greenblatt’s Blessing

The network’s entertainment chairman helped secure more money to pay Christina Aguilera et al to judge the singing competition

What's the price of success? About $2.3 million an hour — at least as far as NBC's "The Voice" is concerned.

The Hollywood Reporter pegs the per-episode cost at that sum in the cover story for its weekly magazine. The price tag is more than NBC has paid for an unscripted series in the network's history – and it was made possible due to the support of entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt.

An executive at Comcast recently told TheWrap that Greenblatt was instrumental in boosting the budget for "The Voice," insisting that the show needed Christina Aguilera, et al, as its judges. According to the insider, Greenblatt told NBCU CEO Steve Burke that series executive producer Mark Burnett needed more money.

Greenblatt was responsible for securing "a couple extra million" for the show.

The show — an adaptation of a Dutch show — nearly didn't make it to the airwaves; THR notes that, when it was initially pitched, then-NBCU chairman of entertainment Jeff Gaspin dismissed the idea, saying the concept wasn't distinctive enough. It wasn't until Greenblatt came aboard that the series gained traction.

Also Read: How NBC Found Its 'Voice'; Can It Lead the Network Out of Fourth Place?

Much of the singing competition’s budget goes into its production values, but about a tenth of it goes directly to Aguilera; THR reports that she pulls down in excess of $225,000 per episode, compared to approximately $75,000 that fellow judges Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine each pocket per episode.

So far, "The Voice" has been worth the investment; it consistently tops its night in the ratings. But Greenblatt doesn't plan to tug the udders of his cash cow until they're dried up; he tells THR that the second season of the show won't premiere until January, so as not to run the concept into the ground.

"Why potentially kill the golden goose because we want the immediate satisfaction of a bump in the fall?" Greenblatt posits.

Hopefully, Aguilera will be able to budget herself until then.