Acquisitions Roundup: ITV Picks Up UK Rights To ‘The Americans’ Season 2

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EXCLUSIVE: With pilot season, the upfronts and the LA Screenings now behind us, numerous UK broadcasters are in various stages of acquiring next season’s new shows for their schedules (Sky Living just acquired The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television and Channel 4 acquired Showtime’s Masters of Sex, again from Sony Pictures Television, while Disney Media Distributions’ Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. & CBS Studios International’s The Millers and We Are Men are also close to landing sales with UK broadcasters). While all eyes are on these new series and the various deals that are being hammered out, TVWise continues its extensive acquisitions coverage with our broadcaster-by-broadcaster breakdown of which current shows will be coming back later this year or early next.

In this rundown (following our rundowns on Alibi, Comedy Central, Dave, FOX, Really, Syfy UKTCM, Universal Channel and Watch), we take a look at ITV. The commercial broadcaster, who used to be a big buyer of US content, has largely steered clear of acquiring scripted content for its flagship channel in recent years. There have been exceptions such as In Plain Sight, Monk, Pushing Daisies and the considerably more recent The Americans, but the focus has been more on originals. Especially dramas such as Downton Abbey and Law & Order: UK, though ITV is making an aggressive push back into comedy with the likes of Vicious, The Job Lot and the more recent commissions Edge of Heaven and Pat and Cabbage.

That said, ITV sources have said that they would keep an eye on any “high quality” shows from other markets (specifically the United States) that could compliment other drama entries on ITV. And that has been the general acquisitions strategy at ITV. Only going after what is considered to be the “best of the best” by their executives. It was for that reason that they acquired Pushing Daisies and The Americans, which was said to have wowed international buyers at MIPCOM 2012. Given this approach, it’s not surprising that ITV has very few first run US programmes (in fact it’s only two: The Americans and In Plain Sight). The ratings for both have been ok. Not great, not poor, but ok. And as such both will be returning to ITV later this year or early next. I’ve confirmed that ITV has picked up the UK rights, from Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution and NBCUniversal International Television Distribution, to The Americans season 2 and In Plain Sight season 5. Full details follow below…

The Americans

Created by Joe Weisberg, The Americans follows the complex marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington DC shortly after Ronald Reagan is elected President. The arranged marriage of Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, who have two children who know nothing about their parents true identity, grows more passionate and genuine by the day, but is constantly tested by the escalation of the Cold War and the intimate, dangerous and darkly funny relationships they must maintain with a network of spies and informants under their control. Complicating their relationship further is Phillip’s growing sense of affinity for America’s values and way of life. Tensions also heighten upon the arrival of a new neighbor, Stan, an FBI agent working in counter intelligence. The drama series is produced by Dreamworks Television in association with Fox Television Studios and FX Productions and stars Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys & Noah Emmerich. Guest stars Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner and Alison Wright have been upped to regulars for the second season.

One of the more high profile cable series to emerge from the United States in 2013, The Americans was being shopped to international buyers by Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution long before the series premiered on FX in the United States in January of this year. FOX UK had, at the time, been considered a likely buyer for the series, so the announcement that ITV had sealed a deal to acquire the series in late January come as something of a surprise. Not least because it was the first major acquisition for the flagship ITV channel’s prime-time schedule since the acquisition of ABC’s Pushing Daisies in 2008 (ITV has had other US acquisitions since such as In Plain Sight but they have aired in a late night slot). The fact that the series was being put out in a prime-time slot was telling of the level of support the series had at ITV, especially as prior to Pushing Daises the last US drama series to land a prime-time slot on ITV was Millennium in 1996. That support was highlighted further when ITV chose to hand the series a slot behind ratings winner Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday nights, hoping that the strong lead in would translate to big ratings for The Americans. The series debuted well for ITV, pulling in 2.1 million viewers in the overnights, down only slightly on the slot-average of 2.3 million viewers. The series was able to grow in its second week (the last episode which had Britain’s Got Talent as a lead in) with an average audience of 2.3 million viewers, in line with the slot-average. Since then, however, the series has been having a tougher time; averaging an overnight audience of around 1 million viewers. That said, the most recent episode did see its numbers rise to 1.2 million viewers and it still enjoys strong support at ITV. Under the terms of the deal they inked to acquire the series from Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, ITV holds the rights to the upcoming 13 episode second season. From what I’m told season 2 is being eyed for a Spring 2014 premiere, again in a prime-time slot.

In Plain Sight

Created by David Maples, In Plain Sight revolves around Deputy US Marshall Mary Shannon as she performs her duties protecting witnesses in the federal witness protection program (WITSEC). The drama series is produced by Universal Cable Productions and stars Mary McCormack, Fred Weller, Paul Ben Victor, Lesley Ann Warren, Nicole Hiltz and Rachel Boston. The fifth and final season of In Plain Sight will keep viewers on the edge of their seats with heart-pounding storylines all building to an unforgettable finale. Can Mary blend motherhood with her very dangerous profession? Or will she put the infant up for adoption? Will Marshall finally admit his feelings for Mary, or can he make his relationship with Abigail (Rachel Boston) work? What will become of Brandi now that she is a runaway bride? Surrounded by competing agendas, will Stan manage to keep his WITSEC office afloat? After her gut-wrenching break-up from Raph (Cristian de la Fuente) is it possible for Mary to fall in love again? And the biggest questions that have haunted Mary her entire life, why did her dad run out on her family and where is he?

A fixture on USA Network for the better part of five years, In Plain Sight was one of the few US dramas that ITV had acquired in recent years (others have included Pushing Daisies and fellow USA Network series Monk). But unlike the aforementioned Pushing Daisies, ITV opted to air the series in a late night time-slot (Monk aired in a daytime slot). Despite that, sources say, In Plain Sight performed well in the slot and has continued to do so since its premiere on ITV in 2009. Given that, as we reported several months ago, ITV remained committed to airing all 5 seasons of the series and as such sealed a deal with NBCUniversal International Television Distribution (NBCUITD) to acquire the 8 episode fifth season of the series. The fifth and final season of In Plain Sight is set to premiere on ITV on Tuesday August 6th at 11:35pm, one week after the season 4 finale airs in the same time-slot. It’s also worth noting that Universal Channel also recently acquired the second window rights to In Plain Sight and aired the show’s first three seasons. Sources at Universal inform me that the deal inked to acquire In Plain Sight from corporate sibling NBCUITD also covered seasons 4 and 5, but those seasons will not come into licence until early 2014, when Universal will be airing them in prime-time.