Last week at the TV Critics Press Tour in Los Angeles, FX CEO John Landgraf talked about the coming of the “talent wars” in this era of Peak TV (a moniker he coined). Landgraf and his team have been graphing the data each year of how many new scripted shows are on the air (almost 500 in 2017), and trying to predict when the bubble will burst (probably no time soon). What may change things up though is exactly what you would expect: money. With certain content creators like Netflix (and up and coming ones like Apple) really starting to lean-in to their billions and billions of capital to start catching our attention, they will eventually snuff out the smaller entities.
Another interesting thing to note is that we’re now living in a TV era where showrunners matter. There are so many networks with so much content, we’ve started focusing in on the creators of that content, and specifically following their work. If a TV show comes from Shonda Rhimes, and you’re a fan of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, chances are you’ll want to tune in. The same thing goes for interest in The Deuce, because it comes from David Simon who made The Wire. By following creatives more than networks, it puts those creators in a position of power to move to where the money and creative freedom are.
Which is why it’s not particularly surprising, perhaps, that Shonda Rhimes are her Shondaland creative team are moving to Netflix after a 15 year relationship with ABC Studios. And while there is an argument to be made against Rhimes — who has created some very culturally important series that star black women — moving away from the most accessible audience to something more niche like streaming, Netflix’s growth seems to be such that it could, ultimately, be an even more important platform. Of course, since they never release any numbers we can’t really know, but …
Ted Sarandos, the Chief Content Officer of Netflix, said in a statement today that,
“Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television. Her work is gripping, inventive, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, taboo-breaking television at its best. I’ve gotten the chance to know Shonda and she’s a true Netflixer at heart — she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience. We’re so excited to welcome her to Netflix.”
Rhimes followed-up with:
“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. 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. 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.”