In one of the biggest twists of the 2023 upfront, Fox opted not to renew its highest rated scripted series, 9-1-1. The drama, produced by 20th Television, was instead picked up for a seventh season by 20th TV sibling ABC.
During Fox’s pre-upfront press call Monday morning, the network’s CEO Rob Wade revealed that the decision 9-1-1‘s run on Fox to end with Season 6 was made a year ago by his predecessor, Charlie Collier, as part of the difficult, down-to-the-wire renewals of 9-1-1 and The Resident, which finally closed a couple of hours before the network’s upfront presentation.
“But needless to say, you look at shows and see different ways. It’s first and foremost from the creative blend in how much we love to create, and the second thing is really the economics of that,” Wade said. “And I think we felt moving forward into what is really a new era of television, the economics weren’t going to pan out for this show for us. Decision was made that the business model wasn’t right for us, and 20th would take the show back.”
Wade spoke more about Fox’s evolving business model earlier in the call.
“We all know industry as an inflection point, and we are doing everything we can to be adaptable to the market and disciplined in our approach,” he said. “We’ve adopted new business models for production and talent. We’re out of the pilot business and have implemented-year round development. We’ve led the way in broadcast-direct deals with creators and we’ve bolstered our production facilities and efficiency. Importantly, owning or co-owning, giving us even greater creative freedom. That means when deciding what stories to tell, we have to love the creative and we have to love the business model.”
Six seasons in, 9-1-1, in which Fox has no ownership, remains the network’s top-rated scripted series in adults 18-49 and its most watched series overall, but it is also its most expensive at about $9 million-$10 million an episode. It is a six-year-old high-end drama with big-name cast, led by Oscar nominee Bassett and Krause, and storylines featuring major disasters that involve elaborate visual effects and stunts.
9-1-1, whose ratings have slipped, was developed and picked up to series under a different economic model when the Fox network and then-20th Century Fox TV were part of the same company, before Disney acquired key Fox assets, including the TV studio.
As it is focusing on owned and co-owned content, Fox opted not to bring back the last two remaining live-action series ordered when the network was vertically integrated with 20th Television, 9-1-1 and The Resident.
Spinoff 9-1-1: Lone Star, which has been renewed by Fox, was ordered after 20th TV had gone to Disney.
With Lone Star renewed for next season by Fox and 9-1-1 on ABC, future crossovers between the two series are “extremely unlikely,” Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn said.
“Right now we’re really focused on our own schedule and how we look forward with our own series. We’re really proud of the 9-1-1 franchise and excited to announce another season of Lone Star, he said. “It’s really a standout series… and rest assured, we’re going to relaunch that show. It’s an important show to our audience, and we’re very excited to have it back. As far as crossovers go, crossovers have always been really hard on the 9-1-1 franchise because they’re such ambitious shows. We weren’t able to do it every year when they ran on the network.”
Fox remains in business with 20th TV. In addition to Lone Star, the network also recently gave two-season renewals to animated stalwarts The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers, which have been cornerstones of Fox’s Sunday lineup for decades and by now an indelible part of the network’s brand. Fox Entertainment also recently signed a new streaming deal with Hulu.
9-1-1 stars Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Oliver Stark, Kenneth Choi, Aisha Hinds, Ryan Guzman, Corinne Massiah, Marcanthonee Jon Reis and Gavin McHugh as Christopher Diaz.
The series was created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear. Alexis Martin Woodall, Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, John J. Gray, Kristen Reidel and Juan Carlos Coto also serve as executive producers.