Universal Channel Picks Up UK Rights To ‘White Collar’

White CollarUniversal Channel has acquired the UK broadcast rights to USA Network’s con-man drama series White Collar after striking a deal with international distributor Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, TVWise has learned.

The first season of White Collar will premiere on Universal Channel on Tuesday September 1st at 6pm and will the continue to air daily in the same time-slot, leading into the show’s second season which launches on Monday September 21st.

From Jeff Eastin, White Collar follows the unlikely partnership between the very intelligent and charming con-artist Neal Caffrey and the hard-working and earnest FBI agent Peter Burke. In exchange for his freedom, and on the condition that he wear an ankle bracelet at all times, Caffrey provides his expertise in thievery to help Burke and agents Clinton Jones and Diana Berrigan catch other elusive white collar criminals. The drama series, which wrapped its run after five seasons, stars Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Tiffani Thiessen, Willie Garson, Hilarie Burton, Marsha Thomason and Sharif Atkins.

White Collar has had something of a troubled past in the UK. The series initially aired on Bravo for its first season, but after the Living TV Group was acquired by BSkyB and Bravo was shut down the series was left without a UK broadcaster. A couple of years later UKTV stepped in and picked up the second and third season to air on Alibi. White Collar struggled in the ratings on Alibi, however, which prompted UKTV not to renew their licensing deal with Fox; a decision that has meant that the show’s final three seasons have never aired on TV in the UK.

Universal Channel’s acquisition of White Collar comes at an interesting time as it comes shortly after TVWise revealed that the channel had decided not to acquire any further seasons of the USA Network drama Graceland, which like White Collar was created by Jeff Eastin and is produced by Fox Television Studios (now known as Fox 21 Television Studios). It joins fellow USA dramas Necessary Roughness and Royal Pains on Universal Channel’s slate of high-end drama series.