Seriously? Seriously. Don't panic yet, Grey's Anatomy streamers, but there is cause to be concerned about the ABC show's future on Netflix. As you probably know, ABC is owned by Disney, which is starting its own streaming service called Disney+ later this year. After the Fox deal, Disney also now has majority ownership of Hulu. Will that result in Grey's leaving Netflix?
Grey's Anatomy is a hugely popular show for Netflix, so it's not something I had previously considered. It was a record-scratch moment to see this sentence squeezed into a longer piece by Deadline on Netflix's future:
Grey’s Anatomy, for example, is a huge Netflix draw that will be pulled from the platform soon in order to be marshaled for Disney’s soon-to-launch streaming service.
It will be pulled soon?! That was the reaction of many fans, once the news started spreading. Some fans have already spoken up to say they'll cancel if Grey's Anatomy leaves Netflix. If the drama does get pulled, it could go over to Disney+. If not, Disney could make it exclusive to Hulu.
The above quote didn't come from a Netflix or Disney+ executive, it was from Deadline's own writing. Still, that's a reliable source. Deadline wouldn't post something so definitive if it wasn't sure of the situation. I'm just hoping there are still more cards to play to keep Grey's Anatomy on the streamer.
The note about Grey's Anatomy came in the middle of a report noting that, for the first time, most new releases coming to Netflix are originals. Netflix is trying to boost its lineup with originals as other media companies like Disney start to withhold the titles they used to license to Netflix.
That's part of why there was a panic about Friends -- since WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal are also planning their own streaming services, that calls into question the future of shows like Friends and The Office on Netflix. There was a follow-up after the initial panic about Friends leaving Netflix on January 1, and a newly extended license deal is keeping the sitcom on the streamer, for now.
Will something like that happen for Grey's Anatomy?
Grey's Anatomy is actually #2 on the list of top 10 binge-watched shows of 2018, behind Friends, per TV Time data (via Variety). Show creator Shonda Rhimes and fellow producers have talked about Grey's Anatomy finding new life on Netflix. They often thought the show would end after X or Y season, but the show keeps finding new viewers thanks to Netflix binge-watching. And when those viewers get caught up, they watch the new episodes every Thursday night on ABC. And that's why Grey's Anatomy is currently airing its 15th season, with Season 16 all-but-certain, making Grey's the longest-running primetime medical drama ever.
Speaking of Shonda, though, she made headlines a couple of years ago with her plan to move Shondaland from ABC to Netflix, making new shows for the streamer. Is it possible -- just asking -- that she had some kind of provision in that deal that would keep Grey's Anatomy on Netflix? Maybe? Eh. Shonda is powerful, but not more powerful than Disney.
Disney and Netflix are not the best of friends, and it does make sense that Disney would want to stop feeding Netflix as soon as possible. Netflix made the move to cancel Marvel's big superhero shows, and apparently most of them have provisions where they have to stay off the air (including Disney+ and Hulu) for two years after cancellation.
We are in the midst of a heated streaming war, and it would be a power move to pull Grey's Anatomy from Netflix. Not confirming that it will happen, but we'll see.
In the meantime, stream Grey's Anatomy on Netflix while you can, and watch Grey's Anatomy Season 15's advisory-labeled new episode this Thursday, March 28 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.