The LA Screenings are now behind us and the acquisitions teams at the various UK broadcasters are currently in the process of evaluating the new crop of shows and entering the deal-making process with the Hollywood studios (and a few independent distributors). While all eyes are inevitably on the new shows headed to the UK, TVWise will be taking a look at the current roster of U.S. scripted series, confirming which shows will in fact be returning to their UK broadcasters.
We continue our extensive acquisitions coverage with a look at UKTV and their portfolio of channels. Following our interview with Director of Programme Acquisitions Catherine Mackin and Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Alexandra Finlay (as well as follow up pieces on more international drama co-productions & UKTV’s journey from ‘bit player’ to becoming a major force with the studios) and our rundown of returning first run US scripted series on their crime focused Alibi channel, we turn our attention to Dave.
Recently crowned the UK’s number one non-PSB with an audience share of 1.34% (up 1% YOY), Dave has been at the forefront of UKTV’s push into exclusive content over the past few years. While admittedly the largest part of that push has been original commissions such as the upcoming Undercover and Hoff The Record, the channel has also been the exclusive home to USA Network’s legal dramedy Suits for the past few years.
Created by Aaron Korsh, Suits follows Mike Ross, a college dropout with an eidetic memory who, before being kicked out of college for selling an exam paper, once dreamed of becoming an attorney. After Mike wonders into an office while evading the police, he impresses Harvey Specter who then proceeds to hires him as a less-than-legal associate for his law firm. The drama series is produced by Universal Cable Productions and stars Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Gina Torres, Rick Hoffman, Meghan Markle and Sarah Rafferty.
Suits has been an important show for Dave every since they acquired it from NBCU in 2011. It, alongside a number of their original commissions, has helped break off the perception that the channel is only a home for straight comedy and the library of BBC second run programming that UKTV has access to. The drama series has also been a factor in the channel’s growth in recent years, with the show’s fourth season, which aired Q1 2015, attracting audiences of around 300K viewers, making it one of Dave’s higher rated shows.
“Suits is a phenomenal show on Dave. It won the Broadcast Digital Award last year for Best Programme Acquisition, after it was nominated the previous year as well. It stood up against competition like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and so on”, said UKTV’s Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Alexandra Finlay. “Suits has been really important for us in terms of broadening the channel proposition, in tandem with the work we’re doing across commissioning, and sitting alongside the BBC acquisitions that we’re very privileged to have.”
Given its importance to UKTV, it should go without saying that the Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams fronted series is not going anywhere anytime soon. TVWise has confirmed that UKTV has picked up the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to the fifth season of the USA Network series from NBCUniversal International Television Distribution. In a break with years past, however, Dave is fast-tracking the show’s fifth season with plans to air it this August, mere weeks behind its debut on USA Network state-side.
It’s worth noting that while Suits has been the sole first run U.S. scripted acquisition on Dave for the past few years, UKTV has been relatively vocal about their desire to find a companion piece for the series. A number of shows have been considered over the years, with Alexandra Finlay recently admitting to TVWise that she wished she could have secured Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the channel. Earlier this week the broadcaster announced to much fanfare that they had finally found that show in Parks & Recreation, which they acquired in a deal with NBCU. The fourth and fifth seasons of Parks & Recreaction will air on Dave this Summer, alongside the fifth season of Suits.