While change is coming, Disney's buyout won't see Fox TV shows move to ABC or change their tone. Last month's announcement that The Walt Disney Company is buying out Fox brought with it a lot of questions. Most coverage focused on Marvel Studios getting back the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, but dozens of other IPs could soon be under Disney's control. When it comes to at least one franchise, Disney won't change Deadpool to match its family-friendly model. But there are still plenty of things that are up in the air.
One chief concern is what will happen to the Fox TV shows. Disney will soon own things like The Simpsons and Family Guy, but non-Fox produced shows that air on the network are a big question mark. (For instance, it's unclear what the Disney/Fox deal means for Gotham.) Fox as a company will shift its focus to news and sports, but does that mean Fox TV shows will be cancelled or move to something like ABC or Disney's new streaming service? For now, it looks as if everything will stay put.
At the 2018 TCAs, Fox spoke with reporters about the future of the network in the wake of the Disney buyout. EW was on hand and heard from Fox Television Group Chairman and CEO Dana Walden, who promised “There is no plans to move Fox shows over to ABC.” According to Walden, a new era of Fox TV will see the continuation of their original content and that likely won't change much in the coming year.
Beyond the next year, things are a bit more up in the air. But when it comes to new and returning scripted content, Fox TV Group Chairman Gary Newman assured that business will continue as usual:
“The truth is, we don’t really know. We have to operate as if the deal won’t go through. Our anticipation is that it will go through… it will pass regulatory muster. This development season, we are reading scripts. We will make a similar amount of pilots as we have made in the past. We aren’t going to worry about what happens down the road when this deal happens.”
The current Time Warner-AT&T merger is having trouble overcoming regulatory hurdles, so there's certainly precedent for the Disney/Fox deal to not go through. Of course, Fox has made it clear they won't to cut ties with their film division and much of their TV output, so some sort of sale is likely to take place in the near future. Assuming things go as planned, however, Newman says there's no plan for Disney to alter the tone of Fox programming:
“They were incredibly vocal to us about how much they liked our brand, how much they admired the programming. We have every expectation they are not acquiring Fox to somehow turn it into some form of a PG company, to ‘Disney-fy’ it. They will be encouraging of our content.”
While some commentators and fans have worried Disney's typical tone will change things like The Simpsons, Deadpool, or the Alien franchise, it makes sense that Disney wouldn't spend billions of dollars buying content only to fundamentally change it. For most viewers, the changes won't even be noticeable as things will probably continue under a new banner at Disney. And as for the future of Fox's TV shows, it looks like their fate is in the hands of the network.