In a suitably dramatic turn of events, TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes is unexpectedly leaving ABC for Netflix, and she’s taking her production company Shondaland with her, Deadline reports. Rhimes had a year left on her four-year contract with ABC, where she created mega-hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, but negotiated an early—and unexpected—exit for a richer deal with the streaming network, which was announced late Sunday. She’d been at ABC since creating Grey’s Anatomy in 2005, and her background with corporate parent Disney goes all the way back to writing the sequel to The Princess Diaries.
ABC’s still-running Shondaland shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder) will remain with the network, as will several upcoming projects in various stages of development, including a Grey’s Anatomy spinoff. What’s more, the other Shondaland show creators and showrunners have their own individual deals with ABC, so presumably some of them will be staying there. But this is nevertheless a blow to the network, where Thursday nights are dedicated to Shondaland programming. President of ABC Entertainment Channing Dungey minimized the impact in her statement, closing with, “With the launch of a new season upon us, fans can rest assured that TGIT remains intact and will be as buzzed about as ever.”
But while TGIT may remain intact, new Shondaland shows are headed to Netflix, where old Shondaland shows are already some of Netflix’s most popular content. “Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan [Netflix Chief Content Officer] Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” Rhimes said in a statement. Her production company will now become a separate division of Netflix’s studio. No word yet on what types of shows Rhimes and her Shondaland partner Betsy Beers are cooking up now that they’re free from the constraints of broadcast TV, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll be able to watch an entire season at once.