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Is it really true that production costs for Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean are $10 million or even more?

Deckhand Colin Macy-O’Toole from Below Deck Med Seasons 3 and 4 told Showbiz Cheat Sheet that while he didn’t know the exact costs to produce the series, he could explain what goes into creating the show. Former chief stew, Hannah Ferrier has also gone on the record with the rumored costs.

Colin Macy-O’Toole of ‘Below Deck Med’ talks yachting expenses

Hannah Ferrier, Colin Macy-O'Toole
Hannah Ferrier, Colin Macy-O’Toole |Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

In 2019, Ferrier dished about what it costs to produce the Bravo series.

“All I’ve got is the gossip, and numbers have been swirled between $10 to 12 million,” she told the Daily Mail. “It’s a very expensive show to film.”

Indeed, the typical reality show can run anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 per episode. Even at the highest end, a 10-episode series is going to hit the $5 million mark.

Macy-O’Toole told Showbiz Cheat Sheet that beyond production expenses, there are the expenses that come with yachting. “You have fuel costs, which is a lot,” he said. “You have pump out people, who pump out the tanks. The boat owner has to pay for marina space and then all the costs associated with docking.”

‘Below Deck’ costs extend far beyond yacht expenses

Macy-O’Toole said the people seen on the dock grabbing the lines on the show need to be paid too. Plus, just paying for the yacht is expensive. The yacht seen on Below Deck Med Season 5, which is the largest ever on the series, costs about $260,000 per week to rent. If production company 51 Minds paid the full price, that’s $1.5 million alone.

Macy-O’Toole then went into detail about the unique costs associated with producing the series, which includes flying all the production equipment to the destination. “You have to pay for the hotels where all the production crew stays,” he explained. “[Production] also rent out a water taxi for six straight weeks when there’s someone who needs to go back to land or they change shifts. The water taxi drives out to wherever we are and they switch out the crew.”

There’s also a vessel always trailing the superyacht that viewers never get to see. “There’s usually another boat that they rent out that follows us no matter where we are,” he said. “That has different [production] crew members on for shifts like breaks and stuff. Like, if they’re on a break, instead of going back to their hotel or land, there’s usually another boat. No matter where we go, they can stay on that boat for like an hour or so until they have to come back. It all adds up.”

Producers have to create a studio on the ‘Below Deck’ superyacht

When filming Below Deck Med, one room on the superyacht has to be retrofitted into a “floating” production studio. Sometimes producers will take over a large guest cabin, but Macy-O’Toole remembers how the yacht gym was used during season 3.

“They ripped out the gym on the boat and made that their control center,” he explained. “So, you have the electric guy, you know, probably the internet guy that they have to rip out the gym equipment and put in like 15 flat-screen TVs so they can watch us do whatever.”

On top of everything, producers also deal with insurance and must cover any expenses such as damage. Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 2 previews show that the yacht crashes into the dock, smashing the cement wall.

High ‘Below Deck’ costs may explain why the crew does not get a big salary

Some fans are under the impression that the crew is well-paid while they are on the show. While they definitely earn their salary and tips, the money only goes for the six weeks of charter. Former bosun Kelley Johnson told Showbiz Cheat Sheet money is the main reason why he doesn’t think he would return to the show.

“You know, for me, I would do another season,” he said. “And I’ve been asked back. It’s just the monetary [aspect]. And the stress you go through. And anybody that goes on this show, it doesn’t matter how perfect you are. You can be the best stew on the show on the show. You can have an amazing personality and do the job fantastically.”


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“And the fans, there’s always going to be fans who are going to hate you,” he continued. “No matter what you do. Because you can’t please everybody.”

“For me, the monetary value that they pay the crew members just isn’t enough for how long you have to deal with the show,” he added. “Because you’re only six weeks worth of filming and then you’ve got, you know, the few months before it airs.”