Superproducer Shonda Rhimes is leaving ABC for Netflix. The move has big implications in the futures of each: ABC loses its top scripted hitmaker, while Netflix adds another weapon to its arsenal as it tries to become the world's #1 content provider.
But what does it mean for the present? Short answer: don't worry, Shondaland fans; things will pretty much stay the same for now.
Rhimes' company Shondaland still has five shows currently in production with ABC Studios: Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, the Grey's firehouse spin-off and the upcoming legal drama For the People. All of these shows will continue to air on ABC.
Rhimes' producing partner Betsy Beers is coming with her to Netflix, but Shondaland's other producers Pete Nowalk (How to Get Away With Murder), Krista Vernoff (Grey's Anatomy), Stacy McKee (the Grey's spin-off), Don Todd and Paul William Davies (For the People), Mark Fish (Scandal), Mark Wilding (Grey's spin-off), Bill Harper (Grey's Anatomy) and Allan Heinberg (The Catch) are still under contract with ABC Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"Our current shows will continue to thrive on ABC and Shondaland will be there every step of the way," Rhimes said in a statement. "I could not have asked for a better home to begin my career. I continue to be grateful to work with so many talented people - especially our studio gladiator [ABC Studios President] Patrick Moran and our most powerful and brilliant champion [ABC Entertainment President] Channing Dungey. Starting today, we are thrilled to begin creating new Shondaland stories with Netflix. Everyone at Shondaland is honored to expand both our audience and our creative identity with [Netflix Chief Content Officer] Ted [Sarandos] and the entire team at Netflix."
Really what this deal means is that ABC will eventually have to start finding new suppliers for its Thursday nights, because it won't be getting new Shondaland shows once its current slate is exhausted. The two upcoming ones — the Grey's spin-off and For the People -- could be the last. According to studio chief Patrick Moran, ABC is working on a pilot from The Catch and Scandal (and Wonder Woman) writer Allan Heinberg and has other Shondaland projects in development from before Rhimes and Beers signed their new deals. But whatever happens with those, Shonda Rhimes won't be part of them.
The deal with Netflix is for Shondaland to develop shows for the streaming service, so they will be totally new shows. And they'll probably be a little racier, since they're no longer bound by network standards.
And of course, the Shondaland library of shows will continue to be available on Netflix.
Grey's Anatomy returns with a two-hour Season 14 premiere on Sept. 28 at 8/7c, followed by How to Get Away with Murder's Season 4 premiere at 10/9c. Meanwhile, Scandal returns for its seventh and final season Oct. 5 at 9/8c.