FOX’s Co-Production Aspirations Could Spell Doom for 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady

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In recent years, FOX has been switching things up.

When the network became an independent broadcaster, it was inevitable there would be changes.

The network’s reliance on a wider variety of programming has led to mixed results, and the latest strategy shift could become the norm for all of the networks after initially being adopted by The CW.

On Thursday, FOX officially picked up the new drama series Murder in a Small Town, starring Rossif Sutherland (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and the Beast).

It is the first pickup of a scripted series on the network to be co-produced with an international studio.

Co-producing shows come with fewer risks because it allows shows to be made more cost-effectively by splitting the budget.

The series is being developed for the 2024-25 TV season, which makes sense when you consider the delayed premiere dates of the network’s returning series due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

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“Murder In a Small Town illustrates our ongoing strategy to identify and commission impactful global content in a smart and effective manner with proven creative partners,” said Michael Thorn, Fox Entertainment’s President of scripted Programming.

With TV ratings falling across the board, there have been questions about the viability of broadcast networks that used to have some of the best shows across the TV landscape.

Many beloved shows are ending on the broadcast networks, including Blue Bloods and Station 19, fueling speculation that shows aren’t making enough money to remain alive.

For longer-running shows, that’s not uncommon because you have cast salaries to consider.

More often than not, earnings for talent appreciate as a series progresses. In Blue Bloods’ case, the show hit a wall regarding budget, with the cast reportedly taking a pay cut to ensure a renewal.

Always one to break the mold is The CW, which long kept shows on the air with paltry ratings due to lucrative streaming and international deals.

The network switched things up like never before under Nexstar’s leadership by focusing on co-productions of scripted dramas, eradicating much of the genre fare.

It’s hard to get a read on its success until we get an entire season of the network with programming unaffected by real-world events.

Cutting Station 19 for 9-1-1 Might Backfire on ABC

FOX, which parted ways with 9-1-1 earlier this year due to its large budget, looks destined to follow a pattern similar to that of The CW.

The network went independent several years ago, which has meant increased reliance on more cost-effective programming.

At this point, FOX doesn’t have any scripted series it owns, with scripted offerings 9-1-1: Lone Star, Alert: Missing Persons Unit, and The Cleaning Lady from outside studios.

There’s a good chance that those shows are headed into their final seasons if FOX gets mileage out of international co-productions because the network will be considering which shows generate the most bang for their buck.

Keeping 9-1-1: Lone Star was a big swing for the network after losing the mothership, but the series has proven to perform well wherever it’s placed.

The budget hasn’t reached the highs of the original series, but it is thought to be one of the costlier shows.

Holding new episodes until fall 2024 and keeping the show off the air for well over a year doesn’t instill the hope that the show will remain a strong performer when it eventually returns.

Alert MPU and The Cleaning Lady are on track to return to FOX early next year, so the network will probably decide on those shows in the coming months.

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But it’s hard to be enthusiastic about any of FOX’s scripted shows long-term because the channel has been known in the past to cut shows when we least expect it.

The Resident, for example, was still pulling in numbers that would signal renewal, but there’s a high probability that renewing the show for a seventh season would have come with some significant caveats, including getting rid of some more cast members.

Medical dramas are usually built to withstand casting shakeups, but the show never really recovered in the creativity department after Emily VanCamp’s exit.

With FOX joining The CW in embracing co-productions, it probably won’t be long before the other networks follow suit.

Then again, it’s also possible networks like ABC, CBS, and NBC will craft more shows that begin on one of the respective companies’ streaming services before heading to the linear network- or vice versa.

FOX has tried the full ownership route with scripted series like Monarch, but the Susan Sarandon Country Musical drama was cut short after sour ratings.

The TV industry is in a transitional stage thanks to companies not willing to take as many risks because of the current climate.

There’s so much uncertainty that it’s tough to tell what the broadcast TV landscape will look like in a few years.

9-1-1: Lone Star Fans Hopes for New Episodes Burst Into Flames With This Delay

If the networks continue losing steam, the programming cost will have to be considered, which makes you wonder what will even air.

That’s not to say that streaming will prevail because, as evidenced by the belt-tightening across the board.

There’s growing unease about where things will go for the first time in a long time.

For FOX’s scripted series, in particular, we’re concerned about what this means for 9-1-1: Lone Star, Alert: MPU, and The Cleaning Lady.

What are your thoughts on FOX’s foray into international co-productions? Do you think it spells doom for the network’s current shows that hail from outside studios?

What are your thoughts on the state of the TV industry at this time?

Hit the comments.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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