Ryan Murphy, the creator of hit shows including Glee, Nip/Tuck and American Crime Story, has signed a $300m (£216m) deal to make shows exclusively for Netflix for the coming five years.
Murphy’s deal, said to be the biggest ever struck to secure a big-name TV producer, marks the latest flexing of muscle by the deep-pocketed streaming services and is a blow to the traditional TV business and Fox.
Netflix has already poached Shonda Rhimes, creator of broadcaster ABC’s hit shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away with Murder; Friends co-creator Marta Kaufman, and Jenji Kohan, who is behind Weeds and Orange is the New Black.
Last year, rival Amazon also got in on the action, striking a deal with Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, which has borne fruit in the Emmy-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
High-quality programming is the key weapon in the battle for viewers and digital rivals, such as Netflix, which has an annual budget of $8bn (£5.7bn), are able to strike increasingly big deals with top on-screen and off-screen talent for their services.
Disney was also in talks to strike a deal with Murphy, whose contract with 20th Century Fox TV expires this year, and his defection will be a blow as the entertainment giant seeks to complete a $66bn (£47bn) takeover, which will see them buy most of 21st Century Fox.
“Ryan Murphy’s series have influenced the global cultural zeitgeist, reinvented genres and changed the course of television history,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. “From Nip/Tuck – our first licensed series – to American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson and American Horror Story, we’ve seen how his brand of storytelling captivates consumers and critics across the globe.”
Murphy had enjoyed a long-term relationship with 20th Century Fox TV, which reportedly offered him up to $40m (£28m) a year to stay, but the uncertainty of the TV division’s future after the Disney takeover helped sway him toward Netflix’s open cheque book.
“The history of this moment is not lost on me,” said Murphy. “I am a gay kid from Indiana who moved to Hollywood in 1989 with $55 dollars in savings in my pocket, so the fact that my dreams have crystallised and come true in such a major way is emotional and overwhelming to me.”
Two of Murphy’s new original series, The Politician and Ratched, will premiere globally on Netflix. Murphy also oversees production on American Crime Story, American Horror Story, Feud, 9-1-1 and the upcoming Pose. American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace is coming to the BBC later in 2018.