Hulu To Buy ‘Family Guy’ and Take Beloved Show off Television

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Cartoon character Stewie Griffin from the show "Family Guy," wearing a yellow shirt and red overalls with a blue backpack. He stands outdoors with a forest and mountains in the background, looking off to the side with a serious expression.

Credit: Fox

Family Guy may be changing hands very soon. The Walt Disney Company appears to be increasingly uninterested in the beloved animated series, and a streaming platform wants to discontinue television broadcasts.

An animated family poses excitedly in front of a yellow house with orange-framed windows and brown shutters. The family includes a large man, a woman with glasses, a teenager, a dog, and a baby with a football-shaped head. They all have exaggerated expressions.
Credit: Fox

While Matt Groening’s iconic series, The Simpsons, may predate it as the premiere Fox animated show, there is little question that Family Guy has ranked as the channel’s most popular adult cartoon for decades.

The series is centered on Peter Griffin (voiced by MacFarlane himself) and his Rhode Island family, including wife Lois (Alex Borstein), daughter Meg (Mila Kunis), sons Chris (Seth Green) and Stewie (MacFarlane), and talking family dog Brian (MacFarlane) and their assorted neighbors and friends.

The Seth MacFarlane series was a mild success and critically well-received when it first debuted in 1999 and made it three seasons before it was canceled by the network, only to be revived after its rising popularity in syndication and massive DVD sales.

Illustration of Stewie and Brian from "Family Guy." Stewie, in a tuxedo, is falling with a surprised look, while Brian, wearing a collar, looks shocked against
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Related: Disney+ Spent $156 Million on One Season of a Canceled Show, Report Reveals

Since then, Family Guy has been one of the most popular adult animated series on television and turned Seth MacFarlane into a mini-empire of his own. The success of Family Guy paved the way for American Dad, the Ted franchise, and The Orville, not to mention MacFarlane’s extensive recording career and attempts to break out as a leading man.

But while Family Guy may still be the most-watched show in the current Fox Animation Domination line-up, the channel’s parent company, Disney, has made the peculiar move of demoting it from its usual Sunday night timeslot. Even stranger, the upcoming Family Guy season 23 has been removed from the fall season for the first time in over 20 years and re-scheduled to the (generally) less-desirable mid-season.

The "Family Guy" family, including Brian the dog, Peter, Stewie, Lois, and Meg in their usual attire, sitting on a purple sofa.
Credit: Fox

It is unclear exactly why Fox has kicked Seth MacFarlane and Family Guy out of their accustomed spots. The creator (and voice of many characters) has confirmed that he has no plans to end the show of his own accord, saying, “At this point, I don’t see a good reason to stop. People still love it. It makes people happy, and it funds some good causes.”

Fox has already greenlit the upcoming animated series Universal Basic Guys for a second season before the first episode premieres, indicating that the channel may be positioning the new show as the successor to Family Guy. It also may be that Fox is preparing to move Family Guy off traditional broadcast television and hand it over to the streaming platform Hulu, which is also owned by Disney.

Currently, Family Guy is available on a “next-day” basis on Hulu, meaning that new episodes are available the day after they broadcast on Fox.

But Disney TV Group President Craig Erwich has signaled that Hulu is interested in adopting the show wholesale (per Deadline), saying, “The past seasons of Family Guy are extraordinarily popular on Hulu, they generate a massive amount of engagement. So any opportunity that arises with Family Guy is something that we’ll take a look at, in any form, that opportunity can take on many shapes and sizes.”

Cartoon image of Stewie Griffin with a bald head, wearing a yellow shirt and red overalls, standing between two swings in a playground, looking slightly sad or thoughtful.
Credit: FOX

While it once would have been an unusual move to take a beloved and much-watched series off traditional broadcast television and port it over to Hulu, that actually aligns with Disney’s overall strategy.

CEO Bob Iger recently revealed at the MoffettNathanson Media, Internet and Communications Conference that the company is actively slashing budgets for traditional TV in favor of streaming content, saying it “pretty dramatically [reduced] our investment in content specifically aimed at those traditional networks.”

Related: Disney Debuts New ‘Family Guy’ Crossover With ‘Lilo & Stitch’

At the same time, the continued success of Disney-owned channels like ABC and FX is being used as a cash cow for Disney+ and Hulu to fueld their streaming libraries. Erwich also explained, “Broadcast shows, whether they be procedurals or family-friendly comedies, have never gone out of vogue, and now, these deep libraries, which broadcast shows have a unique ability to become over the long run, are fueling the streaming platforms.”

What that amounts to is that Disney has seen the sustained popularity of Family Guy and, rather than letting it remain on freely broadcast traditional TV, wants to move it to Hulu’s subscription-only platform in an effort to bring much-needed money to streaming. It wouldn’t be the first time that Fox made a hugely unpopular decision regarding Family Guy, and it likely won’t be the last.

What do you think of Disney moving popular shows to Hulu to attract more subscribers? Tell us in the comments below!

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