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 latest rundown (following our rundowns on Alibi, Comedy Central, Dave, FOX, ITV, Really, Syfy UK, TCM, Universal Channel and Watch) we take a look at ITV2. The digital channel launched in the late 90s and targets a younger audience. The channel has, like several other broadcasters, been making a real push into original commissions in recent years. Such commissions have included the perennially popular reality series The Only Way Is Essex, while scripted efforts have included Switch and Plebs, which ranks as ITV2′s highest ever rated comedy series. That said, the channel has not turned its back on acquisitions, with ITV2 having acquired 3 new US shows from the 2012-2013 season. For comparisons sake, the only broadcaster to have acquired more series from last season’s crop of broadcast shows was BSkyB, while Channel 4 acquired the same number as ITV2.
The acquisitions strategy has been to find what insiders have called “fresh” shows that will appeal to younger audiences. By and large the strategy has been successful for the channel, especially with the acquisition of The CW’s The Vampire Diaries. This past year was more hit and miss, however, with all 4 of the channel’s most recent acquisitions having been cancelled state-side, despite three of them (666 Park Avenue, Animal Practice and Ben & Kate) performing reasonably well for ITV2. The fourth, Up All Night, is set to return to ITV2 to finish airing its run on Friday August 2nd at 9:35am. With the fate of those four series already decided, that only leaves ITV2 with one first run acquisition from the United States: The Vampire Diaries. That show is one of stronger rated series on the channel and as such will be returning later this year. I’ve confirmed that ITV2 has picked up the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to the fifth season of The Vampire Diaries from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution.
Based on the book series by LJ Smith, The Vampire Diaries tells the story of two vampire brothers, obsessed with the same girl, in a small town where supernatural beings live in secret amongst its residents. The drama series is produced by CBS Television Studios & Warner Bros. Television and stars Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Sara Canning, Kat Graham, Candice Accola, Zach Roerig, Kayla Ewell and Michael Trevino. Joseph Morgan is departing the main cast of The Vampire Diaries ahead of its fifth season as he is segueing to spin-off The Originals as one of three leads.
The Vampire Diaries, which was considered to be one of the hottest series being offered the international buyers at the 2009 LA Screenings, was acquired by ITV2 in an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution in July 2009. The series subsequently launched on The CW later that year and on ITV2 in early 2010. Since its debut The Vampire Diaries has been a strong performer for the channel. The show’s third season, which premiered on October 2011, averaged a consolidated audience of 0.92 million viewers, well above the slot average. The most recent season of the series to air on ITV2, the show’s fourth season, did see a slight dip in the ratings, with an average audience of 0.83 million viewers, down about 10% on the previous year, but still performed strongly for the channel. Given the ratings, ITV2 execs are keen to continue with the series. Under the terms of an existing multi-year contract with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, ITV2 holds the rights to the upcoming fifth season of The Vampire Diaries. I’m told that ITV2 will be sticking to the same pattern as previous years and will be airing the show’s fifth season this October, shortly after its premiere on The CW.
Due in no small part to the ratings success of The Vampire Diaries, ITV2 execs are again looking to land a number of new US series for their schedule. Based on what I’m hearing from ITV sources, Angela Jain, ITV’s Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, is looking for one drama and maybe a couple of comedy series. The general consensus is that Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals would be a safe bet on the drama side, especially as there is a “built in” audience for the series. As for comedy, it’s harder to get a read on. Last I heard ITV2 were eyeing Surviving Jack, The Crazy Ones, The Michael J. Fox Show and a couple of others. One thing is for sure, though, ITV2 isn’t done with acquisitions and we can expect some deals to be announced in the coming weeks/months.