Glee creator to swap Fox for Netflix in $300m five-year deal
Streaming service flexes its financial muscle to woo TV producer Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy, the creator of hit shows including Glee, Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story, has signed a $300m (£216m) deal to make shows exclusively for Netflix for five years.
Murphy’s deal, said to be the biggest to secure a big-name TV producer, marks the latest flexing of muscle by the deep-pocketed streaming services and is a blow to the traditional television business and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network. Murphy’s contract with 20th Century Fox TV expires this year.
Netflix has already poached Shonda Rhimes, creator of hit shows for the US broadcaster ABC that include Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder; the Friends cocreator Marta Kaufman; and Jenji Kohan, who is behind Weeds and Orange is the New Black.
Last year, Amazon got in on the action, striking a deal with Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of Gilmore Girls, that has borne fruit in the Emmy-winning The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
High-quality programming is the key weapon in the battle for TV viewers and the new digital rivals such as Netflix, which has an annual budget of $8bn (£5.7bn), are able to strike increasingly big deals with top onscreen and off-screen talent.
Disney was also in talks to strike a deal with Murphy. His move will be a blow as Disney seeks to complete a $66bn takeover of 21st Century Fox.
“Ryan Murphy’s series have influenced the global cultural zeitgeist, reinvented genres and changed the course of television history,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. “From Nip/Tuck – our first licensed series – to American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson and American Horror Story, we’ve seen how his brand of storytelling captivates consumers and critics across the globe.”
Murphy had enjoyed a long-term relationship with 20th Century Fox TV, which reportedly offered him up to $40m a year to stay, but the uncertainty of the TV division’s future after the expected takeover by Disney helped sway him towards Netflix’s open cheque book.
“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 in savings in my pocket, so the fact that my dreams have crystallised and come true in such a major way is emotional and overwhelming to me.”
Two of Murphy’s original new shows, The Politician and Ratched, will premiere globally on Netflix. Murphy also oversees production on American Crime Story, American Horror Story, Feud, 9-1-1 and the forthcoming Pose.
American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace is coming to the BBC later this year.