Yesterday, Netflix signed Ryan Murphy to a development deal for five years at $300 million. That comes on the heels of their massive deal with Shonda Rhimes. Netflix now has the two most powerful and prolific showrunners on television under their umbrella.
That’s great for Netflix, but it is basically disastrous for a network like FX, which relies heavily on Murphy. FX can and will obviously continue airing American Horror Story and American Crime Story, and Feud (the next season is titled Buckingham Palace) but those shows will eventually run their course (and probably won’t be as good with Murphy’s attention focused elsewhere). With The Americans ending its season this year, that basically makes the FX drama department the Noah Hawley network (Legion, Fargo), at least until Netflix snatches him away (and you can bet your ass that they will). With the Disney-Fox merger, FX may get swallowed up, anyway, leaving shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Atlanta in limbo, although those two shows — and the rest of FX’s programming — may eventually become part of the new Disney streaming service, which is designed to compete with Netflix.
Meanwhile, Netflix also took Shonda Rhimes away from ABC, and Rhimes is responsible for most of that network’s successful dramatic programming over the last many years. Meanwhile, Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) has gone to Amazon, along with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Matthew Weiner (although his show is in limbo with sexually inappropriate conduct hanging over his head), and Apple is starting its own network and grabbing a lot of the most powerful players.
All of which is to say: When The Walking Dead, the Ryan Murphy shows, and the Shonda Rhimes shows run their course, there won’t be much left of cable television outside of reality programming (which is apparently where Fox is headed post-Disney merger). The talent is leaving the likes of AMC and FX (which had not yet offered stand-alone services) and going to streaming. We’re about five or six years away from cable being completely irrelevant, and the Big Five being Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney, and Apple (Hulu, which is co-owned by a bunch of entities, will almost certainly be swallowed up by one of them).