One of the worst kept secrets of the last six months has been that A+E Networks UK is gearing up to launch female skewing network Lifetime in the UK, a fact that was first reported by Broadcast Magazine last April.
I now hear that A+E Networks UK is starting to firm up its launch schedule and that they are looking at offering a range of programming which will encompass US acquisitions and UK commissions. One source tells me that, to that end, serious consideration is being given to mirroring Lifetime’s scripted output, specifically returning scripted series. That would potentially see Army Wives, Drop Dead Diva and The Client List, Devious Maids and Witches of East End appear on the channel when it launches later this year.
The UK launch of Lifetime is intended as a serious play for the female audience, a demographic which Sky Living currently focuses on. It is understood that a combination approach of acquiring the scripted series which appear on the US network, commissioning UK factual and entertainment formats and acquiring reality series, is considered by executives to be the best move. That said, it should be noted that I have only one source contending that the channel is looking ot mirror the networks’ entire scripted line up and as such it should be taking with a grain of salt, especially as mirroring Lifetime’s scripted output would require sealing deals with numerous international distributors including Sony Pictures Television (Drop Dead Diva, The Client List), Disney Media Distribution (Army Wives, Devious Maids) and Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution (Witches of East End). However, as all of the series in question are without UK broadcasters at present (Netflix’s deal for Drop Dead Diva is non-exclusive), such a move is possible. Perhaps a more likely scenario would be A+E Networks UK picking up the UK rights to one or two of these series in time for Lifetime’s UK launch.
TVWise did reach out to representatives of A+E Networks UK regarding this story and, without addressing the issue of whether or not the UK Lifetime channel will mirror the scripted output of its American cousin, they issued the following statement: “Lifetime has been a huge success in the US so we are always looking at ways to build on the reach of the channel and the UK is obviously a key priority market for A+E Networks UK.” TVWise also reached out to the various distributors involved, however, they either declined to comment or have yet to respond.