Fox Entertainment’s Charlie Collier Touts Back-End as ‘Holy Grail of Television’

Fox Entertainment, now a standalone broadcast network unaffiliated with a studio after Disney swallowed its former corporate home’s entertainment assets, is “leaning into what makes [it] different structurally,” said CEO Charlie Collier at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour on Wednesday.

“Given the trend in our industry toward consolidation, we get to determine, if for us, bigger is actually better,” he told the audience of journalists and television critics at the Beverly Hilton, saying that the “Fox evolution is well underway.”

Fox Entertainment is now part of a conglomerate that includes Fox Sports, Fox News Channel and 28 broadcast television stations.

Collier highlighted the success of “The Masked Singer,” which will debut a second season in the fall, in addition to a third season right behind the Super Bowl in 2020, and swatted away concerns that audiences might weary of the talent competition, in which celebrities compete in a singing contest while wearing disguises. Fox will air about 30 hours of the show, which Collier asserts still pales in comparison to the 75 hours aired by NBC’s “The Voice” or ABC’s “The Bachelor” series.

The network chief also sees sports and Fox’s animation block as integral to the broadcaster, touting its recent acquisition of Bento Box as a significant deal that reinforces its commitment to animation as it “aggressively” builds its own assets.

Amid an environment where its peers are quickly consolidating and vertically integrating, part of Fox Entertainment’s strategy is the exclusive broadcast-only overall deal the network just inked with “Criminal Minds” creator Jeff Davis.

Calling cost-plus and front-loaded deals “great for the few who can get it,” Collier said his network “still believe[s] in creating and sharing with our talent the holy grail of television – the back-end,” asserting that Fox Entertainment’s new structure includes the “freedom and flexibility to not only offer creators access to a broadcast network – one with relatively few layers.”

“Rather than lock down talent, at Fox Entertainment, we ‘ll also take out the right projects to other platforms when and where it makes the most sense for our creative partners,” he continued.

On the topic of streaming platforms, Fox will continue to make its shows available, once they’ve aired, on streaming platform Hulu, which Fox was a founding partner of but is now controlled by Walt Disney.

“We obviously look at our relationship with Hulu, even after the transaction, as one we’re incredibly proud of, part of the founding of Hulu and the relationship there,” said Collier. “A significant portion – certainly our animation value – is realized across platforms. Both at Hulu and Fox Now. So Fox Now is thriving, is growing, is doing very well. Our Hulu relationship is thriving and doing very well, and we feel good about both. So no plans to abandons the two. But I will note the Fox Now app is one we’re leaning into and does very well but we’re not looking to compete with Hulu.”

When asked about the upcoming final season of “Empire,” Collier confirmed that there are no plans for Jussie Smollett to return to the series, adding that “you try to get all the information and you try to make a good decision at the time.” Earlier in the year, Smollett alleged that he had been the victim of a hate crime in Chicago, though he was later accused of fabricating the event and hiring the men who allegedly perpetrated the attack.

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