Shonda Rhimes Heads to Netflix in Another Big Blow to Broadcast TV

ABC’s prestige factor took a hit Sunday night, but don’t blame an off-episode of “Steve Harvey’s Funderdome.”

Netflix made a surprise, late-night announcement that the streaming giant has signed Shonda Rhimes to a multi-year deal with her production company, Shondaland. Rhimes, a long-time and current staple of ABC Thursday night dramas, will produce new original series and other projects for Netflix. She will reportedly receive $10 million per year to generate new content there.

Rhimes’ three existing ABC dramas — “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” and “Grey’s Anatomy” — will continue to air on the American Broadcasting Company, including the new seasons slated to air on the 2017-2018 TV schedule. But Rhimes’ longtime producing partner, Betsy Beers, is joining her at Netflix.

“Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” Rhimes said in a statement. “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for — the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.”

“Our current shows will continue to thrive on ABC and Shondaland will be there every step of the way,” her statement said. “I could not have asked for a better home to begin my career. I continue to be grateful to work with so many talented people —especially our studio gladiator Patrick Moran and our most powerful and brilliant champion Channing Dungey.”

“Starting today, we are thrilled to begin creating new Shondaland stories with Netflix. Everyone at Shondaland is honored to expand both our audience and our creative identity with Ted and the entire team at Netflix.”

The allure of creative freedom offered by streaming services like Netflix has proven irresistible to many creators. Just last week, Amazon signed Robert Kirkman to a deal, wooing “The Walking Dead” creator away from AMC. But the No. 1 streaming service in the world has a history of its own: Prominent creators like Marta Kauffman (“Friends,” “Grace and Frankie”), Norman Lear (“One Day at a Time”), and Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men,” “Disjointed”), who all have had great success in broadcast TV, are now singing the praises of being in the binging business.

ABC, meanwhile, takes a big hit to its drama brand. The network axed “American Crime” in May, which still earned Emmy nominations for its final season, while its other dramas failed to make a similar impact. Rhimes’ “How to Get Away with Murder” earned two nominations, and the leading ABC programs were the reality series “Dancing with the Stars” and the Oscars’ telecast. That Rhimes’ three existing shows will remain on the network is likely little comfort when considering ABC’s long-term goals.

More to come…

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