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.
Following our extensive coverage of UKTV (from the returning series on Alibi, Dave & Watch; to an in-depth interview with Director of Programme Acquisitions Catherine Mackin and Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Alexandra Finlay; and follow up pieces on more international drama co-productions & UKTV’s journey from ‘bit player’ to becoming a major force with the studios) Syfy UK and Universal Channel, we turn our attention to Fox International Channels UK’s flagship entertainment channel FOX UK.
The channel, which has been a steady buyer of US content since their launch in 2004, is the exclusive UK home to a number of high-profiles shows such as The Walking Dead and NCIS, bot of which rank as FOX UK’s highest rated imports. In recent years, the channel has benefited from increased cash from parent company FIC, which led to both a rebrand and an increase in the level of acquired content on FOX UK, something that is most evident in the recent deals for Marvel’s Agent Carter and the short-lived Fox procedural Backstrom.
With the exception of Falling Skies (which is wrapping its run after five seasons), more or less all of FOX UK’s line-up of U.S. imports will be returning. TVWise has confirmed that the channel has picked up the UK rights to American Dad season 12, American Horror Story season five, Da Vinci’s Demons season 3, NCIS season 13, Tyrant season 2 and The Walking Dead season 6. Additionally, the channel holds second run rights to Family Guy and Bordertown. Full details follow below…
Created by Seth MacFarlane, American Dad follows Stan Smith, a CIA agent in Virginia, whose main objective in life is national security. His family members, as well as a talking goldfish and a space alien who likes to play dress-up, keep Stan busy while he tries to prevent terrorist activity in the United States. The 20th Century Fox Television produced series features the voices of Seth MacFarlane, Wendy Schaal, Rachael MacFarlane, Scott Grimes and Dee Bradley Baker.
American Dad is a key title for FOX UK, especially as it is the cornerstone of the channel’s comedy line-up. The channel managed to navigate the recent mega deal, which saw ITV poach the first window rights to Family Guy, and as part of that have retained first run rights to American Dad thanks to a life-of-series deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. Now in it’s eleventh season, the show is still a strong ratings performer, frequently bringing in close to 400K viewers in its Thursday night slot. As TVWise previously reported, FOX UK will fast-track the show going forward, with plans to air the show’s twelfth season close behind the U.S. broadcast.
“We’re trying to make more of it than we have done in the past”, said FOX UK’s Head of Programming & Scheduling Toby Etheridge. “All year we’ve been catching up with American Dad. We’ve always run about a year behind with American Dad, but we’re accelerating through now”, he added. “We’ve doubled up and we’re on air with season eleven currently and we have a plan to launch season twelve the same week as TBS, whenever it is they announce they’re launching.”
American Horror Story
As with all things American Horror Story, the show’s fifth season is largely shrouded in secrecy, with the network and the studio thus far refusing to release any plot details other than confirming that the subtitle for the new season is Hotel. Cast members for the new season include Lady Gaga, Angella Bassett, Kathy Bates, Matt Bomer, Cheyenne Jackson, Wes Bentley, Chloë Sevigny, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters. American Horror Story is produced by 20th Century Fox Television. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear executive produce.
The hit anthology series from indefatigable producer Ryan Murphy has been a fixture on FOX UK’s schedules since 2011. Despite its continually changing premise and cast, American Horror Story has gained a devoted following in the UK, with the show’s fourth season – known as American Horror Story: Freak Show – bringing average audiences of more than 350K viewers to its Tuesday night 10pm slot. FOX UK revealed in April (as part of wider announcement to dispel rumours that they had lost first window rights to American Dad) that they had acquired the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to the fifth season of American Horror Story. The show’s fifth season will premiere on FOX UK this Autumn.
Developed by Bones creator Hart Hanson, Backstrom is a subversive and comic crime procedural about Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom, an unhealthy, offensive, irascible – albeit brilliant – detective who is brought back from exile to run the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Crimes Unit (SCU). The drama series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Far Field Productions and stars Rainn Wilson, Genevieve Angelson, Dennis Haysbert, Page Kennedy, Kristoffer Polaha, Beatrice Rosen and Thomas Dekker.
This is a recent buy for FOX UK, who only acquired the exclusive first window rights to the “light-hearted procedural” earlier this month after striking a deal with international distributor Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. Given the procedural nature of the show, and the fact that is hails from Bones creator Hart Hanson, FOX UK is targeting the same audience that turns up in droves to hit procedural NCIS. Despite being well receive by critics state-side, ratings on the Fox network were soft and Backstrom was cancelled after one 13 episode season. The show will premiere on FOX UK this September.
Da Vinci’s Demons
Created by David S. Goyer, Da Vinci’s Demons tells the ‘untold’ story of the world’s greatest genius, Leonardo da Vinci, during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. The series is produced by Adjacent Productions and stars Tom Riley (Monroe); Laura Haddock (Upstairs Downstairs), Lara Pulver (Spooks/MI5), Elliot Cowan (Luther) and Blake Ritson (Serena). The third season is set to pick up directly from the events in the season two finale and sees Da Vinci’s world come crashing down when the city of Otranto is torn apart by an Ottoman invasion.
Like Dexter before it, Da Vinci’s Demons is one of a number of shows to come to FOX UK due to a global acquisition on the part of parent company Fox International Channels. The Starz drama has been a steady performer for FOX UK, with the show’s ten episode second season, while down on the average for the first season, still drew decent ratings (around 250K viewers in the slot). Under the terms of the deal between FIC and BBC Worldwide, FOX UK holds the rights to the show’s third season, which wrapped production in Wales earlier this year under the purview of new showrunner John Shiban. Just yesterday, it was announced that the third season would be the show’s last. Starz has set an October premiere, while FOX UK has yet to zero in on a launch date – though it is expected to be close behind the US broadcast.
Created by Donald P. Bellisario & Don McGill, NCIS follows a team of investigators working for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) Major Case Response Team, which is led by veteran Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The drama series is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Rocky Carroll, Brian Dietzen and Emily Wickersham.
FOX UK’s longest running acquisition, NCIS is showing no signs of slowing down. The JAG spin-off, which recently wrapped its twelfth season, continues to be the channel’s second highest rated acquisition, behind only rating juggernaut The Walking Dead. In it’s main slot, episodes frequently draw audiences of more than one million viewers. “NCIS is in growth, still, after all these years”, FOX UK’s Head of Programming & Scheduling Toby Etheridge recently told TVWise. “It’s averaging 1.2-1.3 million [viewers] per week”. Under their existing life-of-series deal with international distributor CBS Studios International, FOX UK holds the first run UK broadcast rights to the thirteenth season of NCIS. The new season is currently being eyed for an early 2016 premiere.
Created by Robert Kirkman, Outcast follows Kyle Barnes, a young man who has been plagued by possession since he was a child. Now an adult, he embarks on a journey to find answers but what he uncovers could mean the end of life on Earth as we know it. The cast includes Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl), Gabriel Bateman (Stalker) and Philip Glenister (From There To Here). The project was developed internally at Fox International Channels, who have a long relationship with Kirkman owing to the fact that they serve as the global broadcaster for The Walking Dead. The company’s production division Fox International Studios is producing in association with Robert Kirkman’s Skydance Productions. The executive producers are Robert Kirkman, Sharon Tal Yguado and David Alpert
While FOX UK was unable to nab the rights to The Walking Dead spin-off Fear The Walking Dead, they do hold the UK rights to Robert Kirkman’s next comic book adaptation (thanks to the fact that it is being produced by their parent company’s production division Fox International Studios). “We’re in the lucky position of having Outcast already locked and confirmed”, FOX UK’s Head of Programming Toby Etheridge told TVWise in a recent interview. “It’s a legitimate Kirkman adaptation of a Kirkman comic and it’s good, it’s really good.” Outcast is a big priority for FOX UK, who will be heavily pushing the show ahead of its premiere in early 2016.
From Homeland‘s Gideon Raff & Howard Gordon, Tyrant tells the story of Bassam “Barry” Al Fayeed, the younger son of the dictator of a war-torn nation, who ends a self-imposed 20-year exile to return to his homeland, accompanied by his American wife and children, for his nephew’s wedding. Barry’s reluctant homecoming leads to a dramatic clash of cultures as he is thrown back into the familial and national politics of his youth. The drama series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions and stars Adam Rayner, Jennifer Finnigan, Ashraf Barhom, Moran Atias, Noah Silver, Anne Winters, Fares Fares, Salim Daw, Justin Kirk, Jordana Spiro, Mehdi Dehbi and Alice Krige.
FX’s geo-political drama was the talk of the 2014 LA Screenings and FOX UK secured the Adam Rayner fronted series in a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution after battling off competition from a couple of rival UK broadcasters. The show’s first season averaged around 150K viewers in its Friday night slot, which was up on the slot average but down on the performance of a number of the channel’s other dramas such as Da Vinci’s Demons, NCIS and The Walking Dead. Under the licensing agreement they inked with sister company Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution to acquire the show, FOX UK hold the rights to the show’s second season, which is expected to premiere this Autumn.
The Walking Dead
Based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead follows a group of people, led by deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes, who are attempting to survive after an outbreak has led to the rise of the undead (known colloquially as walkers). The drama series stars Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan. David Morrissey and Danai Gurira.
Robert Kirkman’s zombie drama is FOX UK’s flagship show and has now, several years on from its initial premiere, firmly established itself as a ratings juggernaut on both side of the Atlantic. Most recently, the fifth season of the series smashed ratings records for FOX UK when the second episode drew an overnight audience of 900K viewers in its main-slot. Additionally, the show also continues to be big draw in both time-shifted and on-demand viewing. “The Walking Dead is head and shoulders the biggest thing on the channel, its weekly viewership is sometimes nudging two million”, said Toby Etheridge. The show is in a unique position in so much as Fox International Channels took broadcasting, syndication and home entertainment rights to The Walking Dead in all international markets. As such, FOX UK retains first window rights for the life of the series. The show’s sixth season will premiere on FOX UK within 24 hours of the US broadcast on AMC.