John Landgraf on Ryan Murphy’s Possible Return to Disney Fold: ‘Would I Like It to Happen? Yes’

John Landgraf Showman of the Year
Jill Greenberg for Variety

FX chairman John Landgraf told reporters during a virtual executive session for the Television Critics Association summer press tour that his famous deep dives on the state of the television industry will be much more specific to FX going forward.

“One of the things you’ll note is that my presentation today was very focused on the FX brand and FX programming,” Landgraf said. “I think it’s just factually accurate to say that is where I am focused. For many, many years I have been involved in the distribution process and running linear channels, and there was a major restructuring at the Walt Disney Company, and the running of the linear channels exists elsewhere in the company. I run a brand that markets, commissions, publicizes, programs, and produces original programming. I think that’s one of the reasons you’re seeing my focus change somewhat. I’m going to talk much more specifically from an FX-centric perspective today and moving forward.”

Landgraf became a hit in media circles for his data-driven analyses of the state of television, using his platform at least once a year to discuss the growing number of scripted shows on the air and his belief that a content bubble was forming that would eventually contract. It was this wonky approach that helped him earn the nickname “the Mayor of Television,” after all.

Landgraf also discussed why it was important for FX to continue to grow the FX on Hulu brand, saying he hopes creators coming to him will recognize that, although the platforms may be different, “There’s very little difference in the sense that you can see it’s one single, coherent brand.”

“What I will say is that we can all see the focal point of consumption of scripted programming moving toward streaming,” he said. “It’s not that there isn’t major consumption on linear channels anymore. There is. People have noted that bulk of television watching with a capital T still exists on linear channels. But I think scripted programming consumption is rising very rapidly on streaming platforms. Conversely, it tends to be declining on linear channels. So that’s why it’s really vitally important for FX to be a major part of that ecosystem that’s growing … We’re in this bifurcated place where we make shows for our linear channels … but all of those shows are now available in a streaming context.”

Landgraf was also asked about whether or not he has had any conversations about Ryan Murphy returning to the Disney fold once his overall deal at Netflix expires.

“If you ask me ‘Would I like it to happen?’ the answer is yes. If you ask me ‘Could it happen?’ I don’t have the answer to that question,” he said. “It lies within the free market and it ultimately lies within Ryan Murphy. He gets to decide where he makes his deal and what he does. From where I sit, he’s been extraordinarily productive for Netflix and obviously we have continued to work with him, and we’re thrilled by the work he’s done with us.”

On the day of Landgraf’s presentation, FX ordered two new shows from Murphy — spinoffs of the “American Story” franchise — as well as announced development on a new season of “American Crime Story.”