Fox CEOs/co-chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman fielded many questions about the Disney mega-deal’s impact on the TV network, but had few answers, as they held court on Thursday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena.
Only three weeks ago, Disney agreed to buy, among other assets, 21st Century Fox’s film and TV studio as well as the FX and National Geographic cable channels. Left out of the sale are the Fox Broadcasting network (and stations), Fox News Channel and other, smaller assets that will form a newly listed company. The intricate deal by all accounts won’t be finalized, signed, sealed and delivered for at least 12 to 18 months.
Messy story short: The “divorce” between Fox’s TV network and its production studio has cast much doubt about the former’s future, severed as it will be from an in-house pipeline for much of its primetime content.
Newman addressed the “elephant in the room” right away by sharing fake photos from his holiday vacation, with him and Walden hugging Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. But on a more serious note, he announced that, once the Disney deal is finished, Fox Broadcasting will be spun off, along with Fox Sports and Fox News, into “a very robust and nimble company” titled New Fox.
Until the Disney deal is closed, though, it’s “business as usual” at Fox, he reiterated: “We will remain focused on managing the business of Fox,” adding that development of new series “is moving forward with top creators” like Empire‘s Lee Daniels, New Girl‘s Liz Meriwether and Jerrod Carmichael. He also anticipates that they’ll be ordering “a similar number of pilots” this May for the 2018-19 TV season as they have in previous years.
So does the Disney deal mean we’ll be seeing Fox hits like The Simpsons and Empire airing on the Disney-owned ABC? No, according to Walden: “There’s no plan to move Fox shows over to ABC,” she stated. Instead, Fox’s current shows are expected to continue to run on the network for the remainder of their runs.
Fox will also keep launching their own original content after the Disney deal is finalized: Even though “80 percent of the programming in all of New Fox will be live and sports,” Walden insisted that “the network will continue to do entertainment programming.” In fact, she sees New Fox’s lack of an in-house studio as “a great opportunity” for outside studios like Warner Bros. and Sony to get their shows on a broadcast network.