As you’ve probably heard, Disney is buying a big chunk of Fox for $66 billion. One piece that Disney is not buying is Fox’s actual broadcast network, just the company that makes the shows. So where does that leave Fox and its stable of shows? For the next 12 to 18 months, on what its top executives are calling “New Fox.” Then? Well, we’ll find out.
Fox’s team tackled the issue right up front at the TCAs, according to several writers there:
It’s not a minor question. Fox has struggled recently with ratings despite the popularity of its Sunday animation block and being home to critically acclaimed sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mick, and The Last Man on Earth. It saw an uptick just yesterday with its winter premieres, which is good news. But the core problem remains: soon, the company that produces most of its shows is going to be owned by someone else, forcing a reconsideration of how it pays the bills. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility Fox will lose every show it currently airs to other networks or streaming services.
The bigger problem is what happens once the clock runs out. Fox executives were careful to note that they believe the deal will go through, but that “New Fox” will be operating as if it won’t. It’s sort of a Cinderella situation except once the clock strikes midnight, nobody seems entirely sure what Fox will turn into. In the meantime, it’s renewed shows like The Gifted, and seems largely committed to keeping its shows in place until it can figure out who’s willing to work under the clock. For some series, like New Girl, which will have its final eight-episode season debut in April, it’s not an issue. Others, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, may actually benefit if it looks like Fox Broadcasting will buy shows from their studio. Or the network may try something entirely different, like importing foreign TV shows the way PBS does, shifting regional sports cable networks to broadcast, or walking away from scripted shows altogether.
Fox doesn’t have a lot of time to figure that out. But for now, it appears, business will operate as usual. At least until it doesn’t.