Shonda Rhimes’ Netflix Deal Has TV Networks Worried … And It Should

Shonda Rhimes in 2008
Shonda Rhimes in 2008
Greg Hernandez from California, CA, USA

After more than a decade as a hitmaker for ABC, Shonda Rhimes is leaving network TV and moving to Netflix.

The move marks the latest blow to traditional TV networks and cable providers as they continue losing ground to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. It also follows last week’s announcements that Netflix has signed deals with the Coen brothers and David Letterman to further expand its original programming.

So what do these types of deals mean for network giants like ABC, CBS and NBC? As streaming services continue to shift the media landscape, traditional networks are being forced to adapt in order to maintain their share of the market. This includes developing partnerships with services like Netflix and Hulu to distribute their content and creating more innovative shows that can compete with the original programming offered by these newer networks.

“… the future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.”

Rhimes’ departure from ABC certainly appears to be a part of this trend, with Rhimes herself emphasizing that she has been 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.”

For Rhimes, whose work has been celebrated for its diversity, the move is a chance to continue pushing the envelope when it comes to inclusive storytelling, offering increased visibility for underrepresented groups such as women, people of color and LGBTQ groups. With this deal in place, Rhimes believes that she can continue developing even better shows and that “the future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.”

Although Rhimes’ move marks a tough moment for ABC, the network doesn’t need to come up with replacement programming just yet since Rhimes’ hit shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” will continue their runs on ABC with Rhimes overseeing production. However, the deal does signal a significant shift away from traditional television as Hollywood players leave conventional networks for the promise of more creative and financial incentives at companies like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon.

While it’s not completely clear how this will affect programming on network television, it does seem to suggest that both creators and audiences are hungry for more diverse and innovative programming.

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