Starz’s ‘Outlander’, Fox’s Hit Music Drama ‘Empire’ & ABC Comedy ‘Black-ish’ Closing In On UK Deals

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With the 2014-2015 US broadcast season at well past the half way point, have the various UK broadcasters concluded all the deals they are going to this go around?

Apparently not. With the exception of a handful of high profile entries, such as Gotham, CSi: Cyber, NCIS: New Orleans and The Flash, acquisitions have been slower this season, but sources tell TVWise that a new round of deals are being finalised and are set to be announced in the weeks/months ahead.

So which shows are close to crossing the Atlantic?

The one closest to fruition is Starz’s hit drama Outlander. The series, based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon and adapted for television by Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ronald D. Moore, has long been tipped for a UK sale, but Sony sources now say that it is a “done deal”.

It is still unclear which channel has picked up the Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe fronted series, but it is understood to be a “major broadcaster”, who finally picked up the show after “extremely complex” negotiations, which nearly fell apart on more than one occasion. My source denies the rumour that the issue in securing a UK deal was down to the recent referendum and stated that the broadcaster in question will be announcing the acquisition by the end of March.

Equally, Empire is heating up for a UK deal. There was luke-warm interest in the series for the past few months, with no UK broadcasters considering it a priority. But after the strong ratings performance (Empire has grown its audience every single week it has been on air for Fox) and the quick second season renewal, that may be changing. According to sources, Amazon Prime Instant Video UK have set their sights on the show, which is being shopped by Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, and with their deep pockets they may wind up landing it. Previously it was only More4 who had kicked the tires on a UK deal.

ABC’s Black-ish, a family comedy starring Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne, is also being eyed up for a UK deal. The show has been on Channel 4’s radar since the LA Screenings and that interest has now spiked owing to the show’s relatively strong ratings performance on ABC. While C4 execs may wait to see if the show gets a second season (just as they did with The Goldbergs), a UK sale is looking more likely. Disney Media Distribution is handling global sales.

Elsewhere, other deals are on the horizon. Comedy Central UK are in the market for a new “high-impact” US sitcom, though there’s no word on what they’re looking at. And UKTV are also looking for a new crime drama to add to their line-up for Alibi, which is already the exclusive home to the likes of Rizzoli & Isles and Castle.