EXCLUSIVE: Cullen Bohannon and Walt Longmire are sticking around in the UK for a while. I’ve just confirmed that TCM has acquired the exclusive first run UK broadcast right to the third season of AMC’s drama series Hell On Wheels from Endemol Worldwide Distribution and the second season of A&E’s drama series Longmire from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution. The future of Hell On Wheels and Longmire on TCM had never been in any real doubt as both have been solid performers for the Turner owned channel. I’m told that, while nothing is set in stone, the third season of Hell On Wheels and the second season of Longmire are slated to premiere in late 2013/early 2014.
Hell On Wheels
Created by Joe and Tony Gayton, Hell On Wheels revolves around Cullen Bohannon, a former confederate soldier who travels west to the construction site of the first transcontinental rail road. However, Bohannon’s journey is not that of a former soldier looking for work. He is on a mission to avenge the death of his wife and son who were murdered by Union soldiers, whom he has tracked to the construction of Union Pacific’s railroad. The drama series is produced by eOne and stars Anson Mount, Common, Colm Meaney, Dominique McElligott, Tom Noonan, Ediie Spears, Ben Ester and Phil Burke.
In the show’s 10 episode third season, set in the year 1867, Cullen Bohannon leaves his vengeance-seeking behind and invests in the new American landscape…the beginnings of big business, big religion, and the new role of Wall Street in the White House. Bohannon must contend with racism, greed and murder as he single-mindedly leads the Union Pacific in its race across the country against the Central Pacific Railroad. The high stakes corporate race, the environmental costs and degradation of the native peoples’ way of life are themes that resonate deeply in today’s America.
Hell On Wheels has the distinction of being the very first series that the Turner Broadcasting System owned TCM acquired the first window rights to. They acquired the series from Endemol Worldwide Distribution – who have since sold the free-to-air rights to ITV4 – back in November 2011, with the show’s first season rolling out in May 2012, and the second season following in January 2013. Since it’s launch on TCM in May 2012, Hell On Wheels has been a fairly strong performer. The show’s 10 episode first season averaged a consolidated audience (in its first run) of 94 000 viewers; up considerably on the slot average. The show’s second season was, in fact, even more successful and saw some growth in the ratings. According to consolidated figures, season 2 averaged 97 000 viewers, up 3% on the show’s first season; making the pick up of season three a no-brainer.
Based on the series of novels written by Craig Johnson and developed for television by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin, Longmire follows Walt Longmire, the Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Longmire is a widower who, following his wife’s death, lost interest in his job as Sheriff. But with the help of one of his deputies he re-commits to his job and decides to run for re-election, only to find that one of his own men is running against him. The drama series is produced by Warner Horizon Television and stars Robert Taylor (The Matrix), Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate: Universe), Bailey Chase (Damages), Cassidy Freeman (Smallville) and newcomer Adam Bartley.
In the show’s 13 episode second season, reluctant hero Sheriff Walt Longmire is back in the saddle after coming to terms with the devastating loss of his wife and dedicated to serving his community. But storm clouds are brewing… Walt’s reign as Sheriff hangs in the balance as he fights for re-election against rival, and his own deputy, Branch Connally. Walt’s right hand deputy, Vic Moretti is visited by the ghost of a past she’d rather forget. Walt’s daughter Cady searches for answers about her mother’s murder, while Walt’s possible connection to the death of his wife’s killer threatens to sweep his loyal friend Henry Standing Bear into the mix. As the open skies darken and the winds kick up, Walt and his deputies plunge head first into the storm….confronting the question: how will each react when it hits?
Longmire was only the second series that TCM acquired the first-run rights to; a move that came about after the ratings success of Hell On Wheels on the channel. TCM acquired the rights to Longmire – which airs on basic cable network A&E in the United States – from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution back in February 2013, with the show’s first season premiering in the Sunday night 9pm time-slot the following month. I’m told that as part of that deal that TCM inked with Warner Bros. to acquire the show’s first season they also held an exclusive option on season two. The decision to exercise that option comes after the show performed quite strongly in its time-slot. Across its first season, Longmire averaged a consolidated audience of nearly 60 000 viewers; not as strong as Longmire‘s predecessor Hell On Wheels, but still rating quite well for TCM.
TVWise’s Acquisitions Scorecard has been updated with this new information.