PASADENA, Calif. — A top Fox TV executive said she was “shocked” when the deal between 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company was announced. One of Fox’s most prolific hitmakers, Ryan Murphy, said he was “very emotional” and weighing whether he would stick around when his deal with the studio ended later this year.
Now that Rupert Murdoch has agreed to sell much of 21st Century Fox to Disney, there are many questions about what the fallout will be for Fox’s vast and lucrative television properties.
On Thursday, at a Television Critics Association news media event, top Fox executives tried to emphasize that it would be “business as usual” — at least over the next year — at both the TV studio and the broadcast network.
“We have to operate as if this deal might not go through,” said Gary Newman, co-chairman of the Fox Television group.
But if regulators approve the deal — which Mr. Newman said he expected to happen — it will disrupt the television industry, consolidating key properties within the Disney fold and potentially sending important producers and executives running for the gates.
Mr. Murphy, the creator of hit shows like “American Horror Story,” “Glee” and “Feud: Bette and Joan,” has a deal with Fox’s television studio, which produces shows for the Fox broadcast network, FX and other channels. Now, he could become one of the biggest free agents in Hollywood.
“Three months ago, I thought I would be literally buried on the Fox lot,” he said.
Mr. Murphy initially had concerns about the deal, he said, because he has worked so closely with Fox executives for years, and his edgier content is not exactly in keeping with Disney’s brand.
“Am I going to have to put Mickey Mouse in ‘American Horror Story’?” he said. (He added that Disney executives had assured him that he would not.)
Mr. Murphy has only rarely taken on projects outside Fox, though he did reach a deal with Netflix last year to make a series about Nurse Ratched, the character from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Netflix has said it will spend up to $8 billion in content this year. Disney bought Fox’s properties to beef up its own streaming service, meaning Mr. Murphy’s next move will be one of the most consequential in the industry.
Mr. Murphy said he was reassured by Disney’s successful attempts at integrating companies like Marvel and Lucasfilm and by a phone call with the company’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger.
“I’m sort of interested to see what that company is going to look like before I make any decisions,” he said.
Another key is the future of the Fox broadcast network. While Fox’s TV studio would become a Disney property, the broadcast network would join the Murdoch-controlled company New Fox, which would also include Fox Sports and Fox News.
But without an accompanying TV studio making programs, there’s a strong belief among TV executives that the broadcast network — responsible for hits like “The Simpsons,” “24” and “Empire” — would be a significantly less ambitious home for TV. With live ratings dwindling for all the broadcast networks, there has been an increased emphasis to buy shows from an in-house studio to keep revenue streams high.
Fox executives said Disney management had reassured them that they would not have to soften any of Fox’s edgier content.
“They are not acquiring Fox to somehow turn it into some form of P.G. company,” Mr. Newman said.
Dana Walden, co-chief executive of Fox’s television group, said any existing shows on Fox would remain on Fox and not transfer to Disney’s ABC. She also emphasized that space on a broadcast network calendar remained a lucrative property, and that Mr. Murdoch’s new company could ask for an ownership stake in any new TV show that it bought from an outside studio.
Still, Ms. Walden, a veteran of the network for more than two decades and one of the most prominent female executives in television, conceded that she had not seen the deal coming.
“It was a little stunning, having worked there for such a long time and having worked so closely with the Murdochs,” she said. “It just didn’t seem to me like that was on the table.”
Ms. Walden, whose contract is set to expire in the summer, said she did not know what the future would hold for her, either.
“I’m going to have a decision to make,” she said.