Netflix lures hitmaker Shonda Rhimes, brains behind Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, in blow to Disney's ABC

 
Lynsey Barber
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Disney's ABC has built Thursday nights on Shonda Rhimes' shows (Source: Getty)

Netflix just landed a big blow in its battle with Disney, luring the hitmaker behind top shows such as Grey's Anatomy and Scandal to the platform.

Shonda Rhimes and her award-winning production company Shondaland will create new shows for Netflix in a new deal, leaving behind Disney-owned ABC in the US, where the network built its entire Thursday night programming around back-to-back shows from the writer and producer.

It's a major coup for Netflix, which last week was hit by news that Disney would not renew a deal to put its content on the platform in favour of making its own streaming services.

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“Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television," said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

“Her work is gripping, inventive, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, taboo-breaking television at its best. I’ve gotten the chance to know Shonda and she’s a true Netflixer at heart -- she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience. We’re so excited to welcome her to Netflix.”

Hit shows such as the 14 season and counting Grey's, and soon, a spin off, will stay with ABC. Netflix already has the shows in some markets outside the US.

It's the latest example of Netflix fulfilling a promise to plough $6bn into content in 2017 to stay ahead of rivals.

It last week made its first ever acquisition splashing out on Millarworld, the comic book publisher behind Kick-Ass and Kingsman. Its creator, Mark Millar, was the brains behind the original comic books which revitalised characters of Marvel and which inspired The Avengers and Captain America movies, made by Disney.

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Rival Amazon with its Prime Video streaming service, is spending $4.5bn on content this year. And Facebook has entered the fray with its own attempt at original programming, launching Watch just last week.

Multi-award winner Rhimes said: "Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company.

“Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was 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. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities."

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