Why would Shonda Rhimes, the star writer of ABC’s primetime lineup for the last decade and the creator behind shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, want to leave network TV? Her move to Netflix is the clearest sign of a seismic shift in the television world, where traditional metrics of success like massive ratings, syndication deals, and prime-time slots matter less, and greater artistic independence is the ultimate goal.
The ABC network three years ago handed its most lucrative night of the week — Thursday — to its most prolific producer, Shonda Rhimes. ABC grouped three Rhimes-produced shows together and promoted the bloc as “Thank God It’s Thursday.” So Netflix’s announcement late Sunday that Rhimes would be moving her Shondaland production company to the streaming service was a gut punch to ABC. The network has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars over the years in advertising revenue and foreign distribution fees from the sale of Rhimes’ shows.
The prolific showrunner behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and more has left her longtime home at ABC Studios for the streaming giant. Under the multiple-year deal, Rhimes and her Shondaland banner will create and produce new projects for the streaming giant. Rhimes’ longtime producing partner Betsy Beers will continue to head Shondaland in the move to Netflix. Under what is said to be a rich four-year pact, Rhimes is expected to score a percentage of the back-end on programming she creates for Netflix.