EXCLUSIVE: Having seen what the big six studios had to offer at the LA Screenings a couple of weeks ago, numerous UK broadcasters are in various stages of evaluating and acquiring some of these new shows for their schedules (in fact today saw the first post LA Screenings deal with Channel 5’s acquisition of Under The Dome From CBS Studios International). There seems to be an expectation of more sales this season vs. last season and so both industry professional and true TV fanatics are already questioning which of these new shows will be heading to the UK. To that end, TVWise presents a run down of intel, from multiple sources on which new shows are being eyed by which UK broadcasters (including some which weren’t shopped at the screenings).
BBC: The BBC is still on a cost-cutting bent given the economic downturn and so content from the United States, as has been the case for the past few years, is not a particularly high priority. The BBC just recently closed deals with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution to pick up the newest seasons of Fox’s animated series Family Guy and FX’s comedy series Wilfred. That and the corporation’s recent acquisition of Parks and Recreation for BBC Four seems to be all the activity we can expect as far as US acquisitions go. I hear that BBC acquisitions execs that were in LA during the screenings were more interested in the offerings of the independent distributors (such as Beta Film who just sold Salamander to BBC Four) than that of the big studios. So those of you hoping to see the US remakes of The Syndicate and Gavin & Stacey appear on the BBC are out of luck. One source refused to rule out further consideration of Us & Them (the US version of Gavin & Stacey) but called DMD’s Lucky 7 (the remake of BBC One’s The Syndicate) a “no go.” Interestingly, I’m told that the BBC does have some (very preliminary) interest in one major US series for the 2013-2014 season. That series is The CW’s Reign (being shopped by CBS Studios International) and given the subject matter the interest is perhaps understandable.
ITV: Given the pretty high attrition rate that ITV suffered with its acquisitions this past year (of the four shows from the 2012-2013 season that were acquired for ITV2, every single one of them was cancelled by the time of the upfront presentations in NYC last month), it should come as no surprise that ITV execs hits LA intent on acquiring a fair number of new shows; most of them likely to be sitcoms. On the comedy front I hear that there are a number under active consideration including Surviving Jack, The Millers, The Crazy Ones, Sean Saves The World, Bad Teacher, Mom and The Michael J. Fox Show. The drama side has a narrower field of contenders as I’m told that “serious consideration” is being given to The Originals, while Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Resurrection, Reign and The Tomorrow People are also in play. Anyone reading this will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that S.H.I.E.L.D. being under consideration was perhaps a given and there is wide interest from several broadcasters, but my ITV source was not optimistic about its chances of landing anywhere but Sky.
Channel 4/E4/More4: Channel 4 is harder to get a clear read on this year – due in no small part to the MAJOR upheaval in the company’s acquisitions department which led to the ouster of Gill Hay – but they appear to have their eyes more on comedy than drama this year. Inevitably, they are looking for several comedies to take the place of cancelled sitcoms such as Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 and Happy Endings. To that end, from what little solid information I’ve been able to get from my C4 sources, I’m told that Mom, Friends With Better Lives, Super Fun Night, The Crazy Ones, Dads, Sean Saves The World and The Michael J. Fox Show are being carefully looked at. On the drama side of things, red hot dramas The Blacklist and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are under serious consideration. Beyond that, as I’ve said, it’s hard to get a clear picture but I understand C4 execs are also looking at Almost Human, Hostages, Intelligence, Killer Women, Sleepy Hollow, Crisis and Rake.
Channel 5/5USA/5*: Channel 5 has already kicked off the deal making with the acquisition of CBS’ Under The Dome, which was being shopped by CBSSI at the screenings. Before the screenings kicked off, TVWise explored the issue of just how many US series Channel 5 was likely to buy given the company’s new Director of Programming Ben Frow has expressed a desired to make their schedules “less American driven.” But that’s not say they are shying away from US shows. The Once spin-off Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, Sleepy Hollow, Ironside and Mind Games are firmly on Channel 5’s radar. Beyond that I hear that both Almost Human, Rake and The Tomorrow People are under consideration as is, inevitably, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
BSKYB (Sky 1/Sky Atlantic/Sky Living): Sky is the biggest buyer of US content and this year looks like it won’t be any different. Ahead of the screenings they passed on acquiring the new season of Teen Wolf from MGM, but beyond that the vast majority of their acquired line up will be returning. Then it was during the screenings that the company’s Sky Atlantic channel announced the acquisition of Ray Donovan from CBSSI. Beyond that, I’m told that Sky is looking very closely at a large number of shows which includes Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Almost Human, Surviving Jack, Hostages, Star-Crossed, Intelligence, Killer Women, Trophy Wife, Sleepy Hollow, Gang Related, Crisis, The Crazy Ones, Chicago PD, The Blacklist, Rake, Us & Them and The Michael J. Fox Show.
UKTV (Alibi/Dave/Really/Watch): UKTV is always an interesting one to watch as they’ve aggressively pushed into acquiring US content in recent years. The company’s contingent of delegates at the screenings was led by CEO Darren Childs and word is that, for the first time, the company is looking at acquiring a US scripted comedy – which I’m told would be for its Dave channel. Of the shows shopped at the screenings, I’m told that they are interested in Mind Games, Betrayal, Sleepy Hollow, Almost Human, The Tomorrow People, Star-Crossed, Killer Women, Crisis, Sean Saves The World, The Michael J. Fox Show, Mom, The Blacklist and Ironside. In addition, my sources at the company tell me that ahead of the screenings they were keeping a close eye on a handful of cable shows including King & Maxwell and Graceland.
Others: In addition to the bigger players above, there are a number of others who attended the screenings and look set to acquire at least one first run series from this seasons crop of new shows. Those others I mention are MTV, Comedy Central, TLC, Netflix UK & Ireland and LOVEFiLM. At MTV, the channel has stated that it is looking at younger skewing shows and while some have noted that ABC Family’s shows would fit this demo, MTV has not had any level of success with this in the past. Both of the ABC Family series that MTV UK acquired (The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars) were dropped after they failed to make much of an impact in the ratings. From what I hear MTV is shying away from drama and is looking carefully at comedies Super Fun Night and Mixology. As for the rumours floating that they would be going after the UK rights to Teen Wolf now that Sky Living has dropped the series, my sources flatly deny that this is a route they are considering. Over at Comedy Central, despite the recent hires and departures on the acquisitions team, they are after two new shows. As I understand it Mom, Super Fun Night, Sean Saves The World and The Michael J. Fox Show are the key contenders here. TLC is also after a couple of new shows and I understand that amongst those being considered are Killer Women and Us & Them. A source at Universal Channel tells me that they will be going after the UK rights to Ironside. I have zero solid intel on what OTT services Netflix and LOVEFiLM are looking at, but both have made it abundantly clear that they will be making a play for more first run content for the UK and given LOVEFiLM’s recent acquisition of Vikings, not to mention their presence at the screenings for the very first time, I’d be surprised if both didn’t pick up at least one new show out of the screenings.