Fox will be “the only network to operate with complete independence and no studio agenda,” Fox Television Group Chair and CEO Dana Walden told reporters at summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Thursday.
Walden noted that the network, which is not one of the assets being acquired by Disney, will acquire half of its upcoming development slate from studios not owned by Fox, which is up significantly from the previous average of about 10 percent, she said.
“It’s not good for them or the vitality of the business,” Walden said of independent studios such as Sony Pictures Television, MGM and Lionsgate, none of which own broadcast networks. ”New Fox will be an aggressive buyer. They have invested in major talent and have great IP. We want to be their first choice among networks.”
Should Disney’s acquisition of most of the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox pass regulatory muster, Disney will own the Twentieth Century Fox Television studio, making Fox the only major broadcast network not to be affiliated with its own studio.
Upon doing the deal with Disney, 21st Century Fox Founder and Co-Executive Chair Rupert Murdoch asserted that 80 percent of Fox would be live events, sports and unscripted shows. Walden told reporters that the mix on the broadcast network would be largely the same as it is now, but Fox has already made big investments in 11 weeks of NFL football on Thursday nights, starting this fall, and WWE Smackdown starting on Friday nights in October 2019.
Some of the series pickups that Fox announced on Thursday line up with this thinking. The network ordered game show Spin the Wheel that will be executive produced by Justin Timberlake and hosted by Dax Shepard; a singing competition series called The Masked Singer, hosted by Nick Cannon with a panel of judges composed of Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke; and a quiz competition series called Mental Samurai to be hosted by Rob Lowe.