Netflix Poaches Producer Ryan Murphy From Fox With $300M Deal

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Netflix Inc. (NFLX) has just fired another warning shot at Hollywood’s old guard and its soon-to-be new rival Walt Disney Co. (DIS).

On Tuesday night, the streaming giant announced that 21st Century Fox Inc.’s (FOX) hit-making producer Ryan Murphy will soon be joining its team. Two people with knowledge of the situation told The New York Times that Murphy, the producer of “Glee,” “Nip/Tuck” and “American Crime Story,” received offers from his current employer and other streaming heavyweights before agreeing to an exclusive, five-year deal worth as much as $300 million with Netflix.

The deal is one of the biggest ever made for a television producer, and Murphy is expected to join Netflix in July after his contract with Fox expires.

Netflix’s signing of Murphy will come as a huge blow to the Scotts Valley, California-based company’s fiercest rivals. The producer has spent the majority of his career with Fox, and it was hoped that he would remain loyal after Disney spent big to acquire most of his current employer’s assets for $52.4 billion.

Murphy was viewed as a key piece of Disney’s expanding empire and Fox executives reportedly made several attempts to get him to renew his contract. According to the New York Times’s sources, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) also made serious efforts to poach the producer.

Ironically, the sources added that the uncertainty caused by Disney and Fox’s tie-up played an important role in convincing Murphy to look for a new home. The producer was concerned that the acquisition could force some of his favorite executives to leave their roles, including Peter Rice, the president of 21st Century Fox; Dana Walden, the chairwoman of Fox’s TV group and godmother to Murphy’s children; and John Landgraf, the chief executive of the FX network, a cable channel under the Fox banner.

“The history of this moment is not lost on me,” Mr. Murphy said in a statement. “I am a gay kid from Indiana who moved to Hollywood in 1989 with $55 in savings in my pocket, so the fact that my dreams have crystallized and come true in such a major way is emotional and overwhelming to me.” (See also: What a Disney, Fox Merger Could Mean for Netflix.)

Netflix, which began offering original programming in 2012 and pledged to spend up to $8 billion on content this year, will view its signing of Murphy as another important victory over new and old rivals. The Scotts Valley, California-based streaming giant has already poached several prominent producers from its older peers and now faces a battle to fend off growing competition from newer entrants, including Amazon, Apple Inc. (AAPL), Hulu and Disney. (See also: Disney’s Netflix Rival Will Have a Lower Content Budget.)