E4 Acquires UK Rights To Short-Lived NBC Comedy Series ‘A To Z’

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A To Z (FT)

EXCLUSIVE: NBC’s short-lived comedy A To Z is coming to the UK. E4 has acquired the UK rights to the 13 episode series starring Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman after striking a deal with international distributor Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, TVWise has learned. The show’s first season is expected to premiere on E4 later this month.

A To Z is a romantic comedy set in the world of an online dating company that details the “A to Z’s” of a relationship, from meeting to breakup. The ensemble navigates the complicated world of modern dating and poses the question: Is there such a thing as destiny? The comedy series is produced by Warner Bros. Television and stars Cristin Milioti, Ben Feldman, Henry Zebrowski, Leonora Crichlow, Christina Kirk and Henry Zebrowski.

There were initially high-hopes for the comedy, especially considering its auspices (Rashida Jones and Will McCormack served as executive producers), but NBC had a particularly tough season last year, cancelling all but one series (The Mysteries Of Laura). A To Z did not even manage to swing a back-order beyond its initial pick up and was shut down once production on the 13 episodes wrapped in late 2014.

With this acquisition, which comes more than a year after A To Z was cancelled by NBC, the 13 episode comedy becomes the fourth series that E4 has acquired since the LA Screenings in May, following the recent deals for Scream Queens, the Rush Hour TV reboot and Containment (The CW’s adaptation of Belgian format Cordon). It joins a comedy slate on the youth-skewing channel that includes The Big Bang Theory2 Broke GirlsNew Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Goldbergs and The Mindy Project.

There has been growing trend of late deals in recent months, with UK broadcasters only swooping for a series from one of the major Hollywood Studios once its fate has been determined. While there are numerous reasons for this, a desire not to overspend on series, given the number of flops in recent years, has been the primary driving factor. Especially as studios are more flexible on fees post-cancellation or if a show has sat on the shelf for a few seasons with no real interest from a major broadcaster.

The A To Z deal is the latest example of this trend, while other recent examples include Universal Channel acquiring Battle Creek and FOX UK acquiring Backstrom after both shows were cancelled state-side. Its not just short-lived series that are seeing late deals, there were similarly delayed deals for Marvel’s Agent Carter, which was acquired by FOX UK at the end of the season, and The Goldbergs, which E4 only acquired after it was renewed for a second season by ABC.