I don’t watch a ton of network television — “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is one of the few shows that sits in my queue.
After five seasons, Fox decided to cancel the comedy, which has always drawn modest ratings but also a fervent cult following. Count Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Hamill and Guillermo del Toro among its fanbase.
RENEW BROOKLYN NINE NINE— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) May 10, 2018
I ONLY WATCH LIKE 4 THINGS
THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS#RenewB99
It’s good. You should watch it.
Cancellations of fan favorites happen all the time, but this year is different. A massive media merger war has broken out, and it’s worth noting the players involved since they own the shows and the networks.
To start, Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is trying to buy a large swathe of Fox assets, specifically its movie and TV studios, its cable networks and its international business, along with its stake in Hulu. It’s worth noting that the Fox TV network and the cable news channel Fox News aren’t part of that deal.
Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast, is gearing up for another run at Fox, and he’s willing to increase the offer, according to insiders, along with other better terms. Roberts is waiting to see if AT&T will be allowed to buy Time Warner — which would signal a more favorable regulatory reality — before he makes another attempt, the sources say. The decision on AT&T will come by June 12.
But Rupert Murdoch, who leads Fox, wants a deal with Disney, despite the slightly better financial terms from Comcast. And that’s the rub: Media mergers are as much about the personalities — maybe more so — than the business terms, and Murdoch really likes Disney boss Bob Iger.
That may sound quixotic, but media companies aren’t in the business of selling widgets; they’re producing entertainment, and there’s a fair amount of fairy dust and voodoo involved. Add to that, the merger dance has caused whiplash in Hollywood. Producers who used to work for one network may end up with a series of different bosses in the near future, which makes show decisions more fraught.
So where does ”Brooklyn Nine-Nine” come in?
The show is produced and owned by Universal, which is part of Comcast, but it broadcasts on Fox. Any show on the ratings bubble — like “Nine-Nine” — probably wouldn’t fare well in the current merger climate. In other words, since Fox is pushing back against Comcast’s bid to own it, anything owned by Comcast — like “Nine-Nine” — will face more scrutiny by Fox.
On the flip side, after the fan uproar over the “Nine-Nine” cancelation, it was NBC that came to the rescue (Hulu, Netflix and TBS also made inquiries), which isn’t entirely surprising since sister company Universal owns the show.
Make sense? By the way, NBCUniversal also owns a stake in Recode parent Vox Media.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.