Lines are starting to be drawn between the 21st Century divisions that are about to join Disney as part of the company’s $71.3 billion acquisition and those that will remain part of a slimmed down “New Fox.”
With a number of top Fox TV executives headed to Disney, including Peter Rice, Dana Walden and John Landgraf, there had been a lot of speculation in the past several months over the future of Fox TV Group chairman and CEO Gary Newman. I hear the veteran executive, who considered multiple options, is in final negotiations to remain at “New Fox” for the near future and oversee the broadcast network as it ushers a new era as an independent. There is no official comment from Fox on the TV executive leadership as negotiations are still ongoing but one is expected in about week. Disney’s announcement of Fox TV executives who are moving over is believed to be imminent.
Keeping Newman would provide stability for FBC which is going through a seismic transition from a vertically integrated broadcast network, part of a big entertainment conglom, to an independent network in the portfolio of a slimmed-down New Fox. FBC’s two top creative executives, Entertainment President Michael Thorn and Alternative Entertainment President Rob Wade, also are positioned to stay on and continue to work under Newman.
FBC is coming off a strong premiere week, posting the only year-to-year ratings increase among the Big 4 networks, fueled by returning hits Empire and 911, the addition of Thursday Night Football and the Last Man Standing revival. Fox was No.1 in adults 18-49 for three consecutive nights, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and was up year vs. year even without football.
21st Century Fox announced in May that Lachlan Murdoch will serve as chairman and chief executive of “New Fox,” with Rupert Murdoch serving as co-chairman of new company alongside his son. John Nallen, Fox’s current chief financial officer, will assume a broader role as chief operating officer.
Along with Walden, Newman has run 20th Century Fox TV since 1999. In 2014, the two added the Fox broadcast network to their portfolio. In the Disney-Fox deal, 20th TV is headed to Disney while FBC will be part of New Fox.