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The week in OTT: Shonda Rhimes heads to Netflix; Verizon still evaluating OTT

The week in over-the-top provides a recap of recent news related to OTT initiatives in the U.S. from various networks and platforms.

* Shonda Rhimes is headed to Netflix Inc. having signed a multiyear deal to produce new series and other projects, Netflix said Aug. 13. The producer behind breakout hits on Walt Disney Co.'s ABC (US) like "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away with Murder" will bring her Shondaland production outfit to Netflix, along with longtime producing partner Betsy Beers. Her existing ABC shows will continue to air on the broadcast network.

* Netflix placed an order for a new limited comedy series, "Best Worst Weekend Ever." The new series, which follows four friends as they make the most of their last weekend before high school, will feature eight episodes, the company said Aug. 11.

* Verizon Communications Inc. is continuing to "evaluate" a streaming service that would fit into the company's larger content strategy, Multichannel News reported Aug. 11, citing a company spokesman. The Verizon representative added that beyond delays in closing the Yahoo transaction, there have been no recent developments that would have had any "material impact on the timing of such a product if we decided to launch it." The statement came after a report suggested that Verizon's plans to launch a new online TV service were facing delays.

* Amazon.com Inc.'s Amazon Studios reached an overall deal with "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman and a first-look deal with Skybound Entertainment. Under the partnership, Kirkman and Skybound will develop television projects that will debut exclusively on Prime Video, the company said Aug. 11.

* Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Reuters that the streaming giant is engaged in "active discussions" to continue streaming Marvel and "Star Wars" films after its content deal with Disney ends in 2019. Recently, Disney unveiled plans for an entertainment online service in 2019 that would host Disney and Pixar films and an ESPN (US) multisport platform in early 2018. Disney CEO Bob Iger had said the company could consider offering rights to Marvel and Lucasfilm movies after 2019 to Netflix, another streaming service, or it may retain the rights itself.

In other platform news

* In more Netflix news, the streaming giant placed a second-season order for women's wrestling comedy series "GLOW" set in the mid-1980s. The new season will feature 10 episodes, the company said Aug. 10.

* Netflix placed a straight-to-series order for an untitled project from Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, the creators of the political thriller "Fauda." The streaming giant said Aug. 10 that it will premiere the second season of "Fauda" in 2018, while a second series, titled "Hit and Run," from the duo is also in development.

* BBC Worldwide Ltd. and ITV Plc's subscription video on-demand service, BritBox, is now available to Amazon Prime members through Amazon Channels. BritBox, which launched in the U.S. in March, is available on Amazon Channels for $6.99 a month.

* World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.'s streaming service WWE Network will launch Aug. 18 in China exclusively on Chinese digital broadcaster PPTV as a subscription video-on-demand service. PPTV subscribers can download the PPTV app to watch WWE Network content on smart TVs, set-top boxes, mobile devices, tablets and online, the company said Aug. 10.

* Hulu LLC green-lighted a series based on the life of RuPaul, Deadline.com reported Aug. 9. The half-hour show is set in New York City during the 1980s.

* Facebook Inc. unveiled a new platform, Watch, to host episodes of live or recorded shows under various categories. According to an Aug. 9 post on the company's website, the new video platform will initially be available to a limited number of people in the U.S. before being rolled out.

* NBCUniversal Media LLC's comedy streaming service Seeso is closing down "later this year" the service disclosed on its Facebook page. The service was launched in January 2016.

* Netflix struck a deal with Joel and Ethan Coen for a Western anthology series, "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs." The anthology will have six installments, each chapter featuring a distinct story about the American West. Netflix will debut the series in 2018, the company said Aug. 9.

* Netflix signed a deal with David Letterman to host an unnamed hourlong series. Letterman will do six episodes of the series, which will feature "in-depth conversations" with one guest and "in-the-field segments" where Letterman will explore topics on his own away from the studio, the company said Aug. 8. The series will premiere in 2018.

* CBS Corp. is taking its digital subscription video on-demand and live streaming service global. CBS All Access will initially launch in Canada in the first half of 2018, with other markets to follow, the broadcaster said Aug. 7.