EXCLUSIVE: Despite a recent bent towards focussing more on home-grown commissions rather than acquiring scripted content, acquisitions are still big business both for the UK buyers and the studios in Hollywood. These past two weeks saw a number of deals from last season’s crop of shows. Sky Living acquired Fox’s short-lived drama series The Mob Doctor from Sony Pictures Television, Lifetime confirmed their UK launch and acquired The Client List from SPT and Watch acquired Canadian drama series Saving Hope from eOne. And while no deals have YET been concluded for any of the new shows from the 2013-2014 season, there are a number of such deals that are currently being hammered out by various broadcasters and distributors (such as DMD’s S.H.I.E.L.D., SPT’s The Blacklist and CBSSI’s The Millers and We Are Men, to name a few). While all eyes are on these potential deals, as well as the glossy new shows that were offered up at this year’s LA Screenings, 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, Dave, Really and TCM), we take a look at Watch. The UKTV owned channel launched in 2008 and has since established itself as the company’s flagship entertainment channel. Watch has the second largest audience share of any of the other UKTV channels (ranking behind Dave) and was able to grow its audience share by 5% in 2012. Watch (alongside Alibi) has been at the very forefront of UKTV’s recent push into original content, but, unlike Alibi, the approach has been a mix between original commissions (such as Dynamo Magician Impossible) and exclusive acquisitions, which have been just as key to Watch’s ratings growth.
The general acquisitions strategy on Watch has been finding strong dramas which have, as one source put it, a “special twist” to them: such as NBC’s Grimm, which is currently the channel’s highest rated acquisition; and Fox’s short-lived drama series Alcatraz, which pulled in “huge numbers” for Watch (the series premiere was watched by 1.6 million, WELL above the slot average). Given that, my sources were keen to note that UKTV has had a particularly successful track record with their drama acquisitions and this year is no different, with all of their current first run series set to return to Watch for new seasons. I’ve confirmed that UKTV has picked up the rights, from various distributors, to Beauty and the Beast season 2, Being Human USA season 2, Grimm season 3 and Perception season 2. Full details follow below…
Beauty And The Beast
Loosely based on the 1980′s series of the same name, Beauty and the Beast is a modern day take on the classic fairy tale which follows the complex relationship between Detective Catherine Chandler and Vincent Keller, a former marine who was reported KIA in Afghanistan in 2002 and saved Catherine from the assassins who murdered her mother several years ago. Theses two are powerfully drawn to each other yet understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them. The drama series is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Kristin Kreuk, Jay Ryan, Austin Basis, Nicole Anderson, Nina Lisandrello, Max Brown, Brian White and Sendhil Ramamurthy.
UKTV’s most high profile acquisition from the 2012-2013 broadcast season, Beauty and the Beast was acquired by the commercial network late last year, around the time of MIPCOM 2012. The series was said to signify UKTV’s continuing commitment to offer exclusive content on its network of channels, and was one of two series from the 2012-2013 broadcast season acquired for their flagship entertainment channel Watch (the other, NBC’s Do No Harm, was quickly cancelled state-side and is set to premiere on Watch on Monday July 22nd at 9pm). Beauty and the Beast debuted on Watch in January 2013 and recently finished airing its 22 episode first season on the channel. Just as it was a solid performer for US network The CW, Beauty and the Beast has proven to be a success with UK audiences. The series premiered to over 0.4 million viewers and while it did see some drop in the ratings going forward, the first season of the series averaged an audience of 0.3 million viewers; rating above the slot average and ranking as Watch’s third highest rated US import behind only Grimm and Perception. The ratings success of the series made the pick up of the show’s second season a no-brainer. Something which was already covered by UKTV’s existing licensing deal with CBS Studios International, as they acquired Beauty and the Beast under a multi-season agreement (I hear that the deal, as it stands, is for 3 seasons). I’m told that the second season will air on Watch closely behind its premiere on The CW in the US, which is slated for Monday October 7th.
Based on the BBC Three series of the same name, Being Human revolves around a trio consisting of a Vampire, a ghost and a werewolf. Leading normal lives is a lot harder than it looks for these three paranormal roommates – vampire Aidan, ghost Sally and werewolf Josh – who share their secrets and a Boston brownstone. Together they try their best to be human while navigating the complexities of living double lives. The drama series, which has been renewed for a fourth season, is produced by Muse Entertainment in association with Zodiak USA & stars Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath, Sam Huntington, Dichen Lachman and Kristen Hager. In the show’s 13 episode second season, Aidan tries to steer a leaderless Boston while resisting his deadlier vampire instincts as he finds himself tempted and tormented by a figure from his past. Sally must face the consequences of missing her door while figuring out how to navigate life on earth as a ghost. Josh searches for a cure for his condition while struggling to maintain his relationship with Nora and, like the rest of his roommates, trying to build a future for himself beyond simply being a monster.
Despite launching in the United States back in 2011, it wasn’t until earlier this year that a UK deal was hammered out for Being Human (which, sources say, is because the series wasn’t available for sale in the UK market until quite recently), with UKTV taking the exclusive rights to the series from international distributor Zodiak Rights. The series then launched in April and wrapped its 13 episode first season on the channel this past week. Being Human opened fairly strongly, with 0.2 million viewers tuning in to the April 11th series premiere, but, despite an extensive advertising campaign, ratings waned throughout the course of the first season, with the show’s 13 episode run averaging an audience of around 0.1 million viewers. While those figures are below the averages for other first run series on the channel such as Beauty and the Beast (0.3 million viewers) and Perception (0.4 million viewers), sources insist that Being Human has attracted a “dedicated audience.” As part of the deal to acquire Being Human from Zodiak Rights, UKTV holds the rights to the show’s second season and intend to air season two either later this year or early next. One UKTV source tells me that they hope to increase the size of the series’ audience through repeat and on-demand plays of season one before launching the show’s second season, so as to give Being Human “every chance to succeed”.
Created by Stephen Carpenter, David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf, Grimm follows Portland Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt who discovers that he is s descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as ‘Grimms.’ As time passes Nick finds his responsibilities as a detective at odds with his new responsibilities as a Grimm. With help from his confidants, Monroe and Rosalee, Nick must help those closest to him while still facing off against all manner of ancient evils, including royal lines dating back to the original profilers themselves, the Grimm Brothers. The drama series is produced by Universal Television and stars David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz and Bree Turner.
One of the first major US imports for the UKTV owned channel, Grimm has been a key fixture on Watch’s schedule since early 2012. The series, which was acquired in an exclusive deal with NBCUniversal International Television Distribution (which also saw the company acquire Suits for Dave and Covert Affairs for Really) in August 2011, launched on Watch in February 2012 to very strong ratings. The series premiere was watched by 1.1 million viewers, which, at the time, ranked as the highest rated premiere for a US import on the channel (a crown which was subsequently stolen by Alcatraz when that series premiered to 1.6 million viewers the following month). Ratings for Grimm remained strong across its first season, with the series averaging an audience of 1 million viewers. When Grimm‘s second season debuted in October 2012, the series suffered from a drop in viewership, with 0.8 million viewers tuning in. Across its 22 episode second season Grimm averaged 0.7 million viewers, down some 30% on the previous season’s ratings, but still ranking as the highest rated US import currently airing on any of UKTV’s channels. Given the impressive ratings, UKTV was keen to continue with the series and, while the show’s second season was still airing on Watch, they entered into talks with NBCUITD to pick up the show’s third season. Those talks were successful and resulted in UKTV announcing in December 2012 that they had secured a multi-year licensing deal with NBCUITD which gave them exclusive first window rights to futures seasons of the series (as well as future seasons of Suits for Dave). I’m told that Watch plans to begin airing the third season of Grimm this November.
Created by Kenneth Biller & Mike Sussman, Perception follows Dr Daniel Pierce, an eccentric neuroscience professor with paranoid schizophrenia who is recruited by the FBI to help solve complex cases. The drama series is produced by ABC Studios and Stars Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, Rachel Leigh Cook as FBI Special Agent Kate Moretti, Arjay Smith as Max Lewicki, Kelly Rowan as Natalie Vincent and LeVar Burton as Paul Haley. In the show’s 14 episode second season, Pierce’s personal life is even more complicated than usual. He finds it difficult to walk away from his imaginary friendship with Natalie Vincent, but he must do so in order to embark on a romance with his doctor, Caroline Newsome.
Perception was one of three series that UKTV acquired as part of a package deal with Disney Media Distribution (DMD) that was announced at last year’s MGEITF. The series had a lot of buzz surrounding it given that it featured Erick McCormack in his first major television role since the NBC comedy series Will & Grace. Given the series’ unique slant on the traditional crime genre, it was considered to be a perfect fit for Watch and that assumption later proved to be correct. The series launched on Watch in October 2012, with the series premiere attracting 0.5 million viewers and the show’s first season averaging a consolidated audience of 0.45 million viewers. Those figures are notable, not merely for the high audience retention across the 10 episode first season but also because they make the series Watch’s highest rated US import behind only NBC’s drama series Grimm. As part of the deal inked with Disney Media Distribution to acquire the series, UKTV holds the rights to the show’s second season. The current plan is to air the second season later this year (I’m told it’s likely to fall in either September or October).