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), as well as our rundown of returning first run US scripted series on Alibi and Dave, we take a look at Watch.
As UKTV’s flagship pay entertainment channel, Watch has been the exclusive home to a wide range of first run US drama – such as Alcatraz, Perception, Crisis and Almost Human – over the past five years, ever since the commercial network started seriously pursuing such content in 2010. “With Watch being more terrestrial in terms of its feel and its mix of genres, we’ve got more scope there to try a different range of content”, UKTV’s Alexandra Finlay recently told TVWise.
Watch was only hit with one cancellation this year, when ABC dropped the axe on Resurrection after two seasons. That show, which UKTV acquired in 2014, had been a solid performer for Watch, but its performance state-side was somewhat underwhelming in its second season. Another casualty was the Gillian Anderson starrer Crisis, which had been cancelled by NBC before UKTV closed their deal with Fox to broadcast the thriller series on Watch.
Resurrection and Crisis aside, most of Watch’s first run US imports will be returning for new seasons over the next nine to twelve months. TVWise has confirmed that the channel has picked up the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to the fourth season of Beauty & The Beast, the fifth season of Grimm and the second season of FX’s vampire drama The Strain. Full details follow below…
Beauty & The Beast
Loosely based on the 1980′s series of the same name, Beauty and the Beast 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. The drama series is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Kristin Kreuk, Jay Ryan, Austin Basis, Nicole Anderson and Nina Lisandrello.
Mirroring The CW to a certain degree (who renewed Beauty & The Beast for a fourth season ahead of the launch of season three), UKTV has already secured the UK rights to the show’s fourth run from CBS Studios International, despite the fact that season three doesn’t debut on Watch until July 9th. Since its launch on Watch in 2012, Beauty & The Beast has been a decent ratings performer, with the second season pulling in around 0.2 million viewers, up on the slot average, but down on season one.
In a lot of ways Beauty & The Beast is a keen example of the wide range of content that Watch can showcase thanks to its “broader outlook”, with the show, which is equal parts procedural and romantic drama, sitting alongside hit procedural Grimm and the more serialised The Strain. The show’s fourth season, which has received an order for 13 episodes, is expected to debut on Watch shortly behind the US premiere, which is currently scheduled for Summer 2016.
Created by Stephen Carpenter, David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf, Grimm follows Portland Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt who, after discovering that he is s descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as ‘Grimms’, finds his responsibilities as a detective at odds with his new responsibilities as a Grimm. The drama series is produced by Universal Television and stars David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz, Claire Coffee and Bree Turner.
Grimm has been a very important title for Watch over the past few years, especially as it was one of the first major US scripted acquisitions for UKTV, with that deal clearly spelling out the broadcaster’s ambitions in this area. While it has yet to best the records set by Alcatraz, Grimm – which is now UKTV’s longest running acquisition – is still the top rated US drama series currently airing on UKTV’s portfolio of channels. Season-to-date the show’s fourth season has been averaging around 0.7 million viewers (though 28 day data has the show inching closer to the 1 million mark) – making it a real bonafide hit.
Given the show’s importance, in terms of both brand and ratings, expect Grimm to be a key part of Watch’s schedules for many years to come. TVWise has confirmed that the channel has picked up the UK rights to the show’s recently ordered fifth season out of a long-running agreement with international distributor NBCUniversal International Television Distribution. I hear that the 22 episode fifth season will launch on Watch this Autumn, shortly after it premieres on NBC in the United States.
Based on the series of novels by Chuck Hogan, The Strain follows Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself. The drama series is produced by FX Productions and stars Corey Stoll, Mia Maestro, Kevin Durand, Natalie Brown, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Robert Maillet, Jack Kesy, Ben Hyland, and Miguel Gomez.
The Strain is one of Watch’s more recent acquisitions, with the UKTV owned and operated channel having picked up the series last year after agreeing a deal with international distributor Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. Given the key art for the first season (pictured), it’s somewhat appropriate that the heavily serialised show brought a lot of eyeballs to UKTV’s flagship entertainment channel. Across its 13 first season, The Strain averaged a consolidated audience of 0.42 million viewers (peaking at just under 0.6M), which is more than double the channel’s slot average for 2014. Owing to the prior multi-year deal under which they acquired the series, UKTV’s Watch channel holds the rights to season two, with plans to air it close behind the US airing this Summer.
In the second season of The Strain, the transformation has begun. It can no longer be denied. New York City is rapidly falling to an evil epidemic, and no one is coming to its rescue. Eph and Dr. Nora Martinez concentrate on creating a biological weapon to wipe out the creatures, while Abraham Setrakian searches for an ancient book he hopes will reveal the strigoi’s entire history and possibly a way to kill them. Meanwhile, the Master is out for revenge, unleashing new and even more terrifying breeds of bloodthirsty creatures after our team. The team must find a way to defeat him before the infection spreads too far and becomes irreparable, before they become monsters themselves.