In another blow to the traditional Hollywood studio and TV ecosystem, prolific producer Ryan Murphy is moving to Netflix in a record-setting deal valued between $250-$300 million. Murphy’s decision to shift to Netflix is seen as another sign of the streaming service’s growing market power to attract top talent from the traditional entertainment powerhouses.
The Emmy and Golden Globe winning producer of a slate of hit shows is leaving his longtime studio home 20th Century Fox to head to Netflix. In what is reported to be the biggest TV deal ever, Ryan Murphy has signed a five year overall to produce new series, documentaries and films exclusively for Netflix. The deal is set to commence on July 1, when his current deal with 20th Century Fox TV expires.
Murphy is one of the top creator-producers working in television today, having the rare ability to launch commercially successful hit shows for both broadcast and cable networks. Ryan Murphy's production house is so prolific in creating hit shows, they were able to demand $50 million-$60 million in annual financing built into the Netflix deal, reported industry insiders. His decision to sign with Netflix is seen by most industry commentators as another setback for the traditional TV business, who are getting upstaged by the cash rich digital streaming providers for big name content creators. Some of the biggest broadcast and cable TV producers are now calling the streaming platforms home, including Murphy, Grey’s Anatomy creator Rhimes (Netflix), Friends producer Marta Kauffman and Weeds’ Jenji Kohan (Netflix) and The Gilmore Girls’ Amy Sherman-Palladino (Amazon).
“Ryan Murphy’s series have influenced the global cultural zeitgeist, reinvented genres and changed the course of television history. His unfaltering dedication to excellence and to give voice to the underrepresented, to showcase a unique perspective or just to shock the hell out of us, permeates his genre-shattering work,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix. From Nip/Tuck – our first licensed series – to American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson and American Horror Story, we’ve seen how his brand of storytelling captivates consumers and critics across the globe. His celebrated body of work and his contributions to our industry speak for themselves, and we look forward to supporting Ryan in bringing his broad and diverse stories to the world.”
Murphy had previously already signed with Netflix on two series that were set up during the past few months: “Ratched,” an origins story for the Nurse Ratched character from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “The Politician,” a political satire starring Ben Platt.
“The history of this moment is not lost on me,” said Murphy. “I am a gay kid from Indiana who moved to Hollywood in 1989 with $55 dollars in savings in my pocket, so the fact that my dreams have crystallized and come true in such a major way is emotional and overwhelming to me. I am awash in genuine appreciation for Ted Sarandos, Reed Hastings and Cindy Holland at Netflix for believing in me and the future of my company which will continue to champion women, minorities and LGBTQ heroes and heroines, and I am honored and grateful to continue my partnership with my friends and peers at Fox on our existing shows.”
The deal is particularly seen as a blow to Disney. Murphy stated in an interview at Television Critics Association media event in Los Angeles in January, that he also had been courted by Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger. Disney is in the process of acquiring key Fox assets, including 20th Century TV. Murphy had expressed having doubts about his future and the Disney deal during that interview, when he said he earlier thought he would “literally be buried on the Fox lot.” Variety reported that the uncertainty created by the Disney-Fox merger was a consideration in his decision with regulatory appeal expected to take several months. Netflix's ability to provide a clear vision and give Murphy the opportunity to pursue TV series, films and documentaries all under the same roof, helped clinch the deal, said the Variety report.
“I wish Ryan well, and I know everyone at our company feels the same,” said Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden, who has worked closely with Murphy for years and has a personal friendship with him. “We are lucky to have so many projects with him.” Speculation about Walden's future is also ongoing with industry sources saying she is also being courted by Disney, but might join forces as partners with Murphy.
Murphy’s large number of productions with Fox will continue to air for some time. Future seasons of “American Crime Story,” “American Horror Story” and “Feud” are still set to air on FX. The new procedural drama, “9-1-1,” will continue on Fox, while his new drama about the 1980s New York transgender scene, “Pose,” is scheduled to proceed at FX.