Shonda Rhimes leaves ABC for Netflix

image source, Getty Images

The woman behind Grey's Anatomy and Scandal is leaving the world of terrestrial TV to join Netflix.

Veteran producer Shonda Rhimes had been at ABC Studios for the last 15 years.

Her company Shondaland will now begin producing new shows for Netflix but Rhimes will stay involved in her current broadcast series with ABC.

"Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television," Netflix's Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

"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."

Analysis by Amol Rajan, BBC media editor

image source, Getty Images
image captionRhimes's TV credits include How To Get Away With Murder, starring Viola Davis

Now you know exactly what television executives mean when they refer to a brutal "war for talent".

Shonda Rhimes has a reasonable claim to be one of the most prolific and successful producer-screenwriters in modern history. Her creations are a catalogue of million-dollar hits, making her a key force in both the shaping of modern culture and the rapid renaissance of television.

Her poaching by Netflix is a massive punch in the guts for Disney and ABC, and the timing is remarkable. Clearly Rhimes will have been in discussions with Netflix for weeks if not longer, and long before Disney's announcement last week that it was moving into streaming services. That announcement sent Netflix's share price stumbling.

So it will have been hugely satisfying for Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, and Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, that within barely a week they've poached one of the biggest names in television: someone whose characters have captivated a generation.

The future of television belongs to those who can marry the best stories and ideas - that is, content - with the most direct route to customers.

In hiring Rhimes, Netflix is showing the importance it attaches to the first half, the content, because it is paying big bucks for one of the great storytellers of our age. The war for talent is really a civil war, within the media industry, and it is producing a clear winner: the audience.

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