U.S. Acquisitions: ‘Designated Survivor’, ‘The Great Indoors’ & ‘This Is Us’ Score UK Deals

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After months of dealing, a number of new series from the 2016-2017 US broadcast season have scored UK deals. Said shows include new CBS sitcom The Great Indoors, starring Stephen Fry and Joel McHale; Kiefer Sutherland’s presidential drama Designated Survivor; and NBC’s breakout hit drama This Is Us, which features a large cast that includes Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, and Sterling K. Brown.

Naturally, these deals were announced during the week that I took off on vacation, so listed below is full details of those acquisitions, that some of our readers may have missed in the past ten or so days. Below you’ll also find details of a number of other acquisitions; including two shows which are on cable networks in the United States and a short-lived series from last season.

New Series’ From 2016-2017 Broadcast Season

Designated Survivor

designated-survivor-2From David Guggenheim & Mark Gordon, Designated Survivor follows Tom Kirkman, the Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, who succeeds to the Presidency when everyone above him in the line of succession is killed during a catastrophic terrorist attack during the State of the Union. The drama series is produced by Entertainment One (eOne) & The Mark Gordon Company and stars Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Maggie Q, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, Kal Penn, Tanner Buchanan and LaMonica Garrett.

After months of rumours, which began on the ground in LA during the screenings back in May, Netflix UK has confirmed that they have inked a (more or less) global deal for the Kiefer Sutherland drama with international distributor eOne, with one of the 180 territories covered by said deal being the UK. Designated Survivor is the second major acquisition for Netflix UK so far this year, after they previously struck a deal for Star Trek: Discovery. The first two episodes of Designated Survivor are now available to stream, with subsequent episodes being made available every Thursday, less than 24 hours after they air on ABC in the United States.

The Great Indoors

the-great-indoorsThe Great Indoors tells the story of a renowned adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine who must adapt to the times when he becomes the desk-bound boss to a group of millennials in the digital department of the publication. The half-hour comedy was created by Mike Gibbons and stars Joel McHale. Mike Gibbons, Chris Harris and Andy Ackerman are the executive producers. CBS Television Studios is the studio.

ITV2 has swooped for this one, securing the comedy starring Stephen Fry in a deal with international distributor CBS Studios International. The deal encompasses exclusive first window broadcast and VOD rights. At ITV2, it joins a comedy line up that also includes Mom and Fox’s animated series Family Guy (the other Seth MacFarlane series on the channel are second window). The series is expected to premiere on ITV2 later this year.

“The Great Indoors was hands down my favourite sitcom pilot for the new US season, successfully treading the line between sweet and sharp, warm and witty”, said ITV’s Acquisitions Manager Sasha Breslau. “Familiar faces include the inimitable Stephen Fry, the extremely talented Joel McHale and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, but the deadpan delights of Christine Ko and Shaun Brown are a new treat in this brilliant ensemble cast.”

This Is Us

this-is-usFrom Dan Fogelman (GalavantThe Neighbors), This Is Us is described as a refreshingly honest and provocative series follows a unique ensemble. As their paths cross and their life stories intertwine in curious ways, we find that several of them share the same birthday, and so much more than anyone would expect. The drama series, which was recently picked up for a full season of 18 episodes, is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars  Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Chris Sullivan, Susan Kelechi Watson and Ron Cephas Jones.

This show was red hot at the LA Screenings and was drawing a lot of interest for most of the major UK buyers. But it is Channel 4 who have landed the series, which has favourably compared to fellow NBC drama Parenthood, after striking a multi-year deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. It is a rare acquisition for the main channel (with most US acquisitions normally going to E4) and joins the likes of Fargo and Homeland, both of which will return to the channel with their new seasons in 2017.

“This Is Us is unmissably life affirming with a warmth that has drawn critical acclaim and bumper ratings”, said Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt. “It’s a great addition to our strong slate of acquired shows – from Deutschland 83 to Fargo.”

New Series From U.S. Cable Networks

Animal Kingdom

Animal KingdomFrom John Wells and Jonathan Lisco, Animal Kingdom follows 17-year-old Josh, who moves in with his wild, free-wheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town after his mother dies and is pulled into their life of indulgence and excess. But after Josh discovers that it’s all being funded by criminal activities, it suddenly becomes clear to him that joining the family comes with more danger and excitement than he might be ready to handle. The drama series is produced by Warner Horizon Television and stars Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, Finn Cole, Daniella Alonso and Molly Gordon.

Amazon Prime Video UK has secured exclusive rights to this TNT series after striking a deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution. The entire ten episode first season is now available to stream for Prime members. A second season has been commissioned and will be made available on Amazon Prime shortly after it premieres in the United States in 2017. Animal Kingdom is the latest high-profile acquisition for the streaming service as they continue to increase their footprint in the area of first run U.S. TV comedy and drama series and joins a slate that includes the likes of Halt & Catch FireMr RobotOutlander and Preacher.

Young & Hungry

Young & HungryYoung & Hungry is a comedy series where two worlds collide when Josh, a wealthy young entrepreneur, hires feisty blogger Gabi to be his personal chef. The series is produced by CBS Television Studios & Freeform Original Productions and stars Emily Osment, Jonathan Sadowski, Aimee Carrero, Kym Whitley, and Rex Lee. The executive producers are David Holden, Ashley Tisdale, Jessica Rhoades, Caryn Lucas, and Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum. A spin-off is currently in development at US network Freeforrm (FKA ABC Family).

This is one, which like many ABC Family/Freeform original series, which flew largely under the radar as far as UK buyers are concerned. There is some reason for that, with a senior buyer telling TVWise that such shows target a “difficult demographic” and have failed to make much of an impact with audiences when UK broadcasters have previously swooped for the likes of The Secret Life Of The American Teenager or even Pretty Little Liars.

That said, Channel 4 has tested the waters with Freeform’s comedy output, by picking up Baby Daddy & stripping it in a afternoon time-slot and now they are planning on doing the same thing with Young & Hungry. C4 has inked a multi-season deal for the half-hour comedy with Disney Media Distribution and plan on launching the series on the younger-skewing E4 in an afternoon slot later this month.

New Series From 2015-2016 Broadcast Season

The Player

The PlayerFrom John Rogers and Sony Pictures Television, The Player tells the story of a former military operative turned security expert who is drawn into a high-stakes game where an organization of wealthy individuals gamble on his ability to stop some of the biggest crimes imaginable from playing out. The cast includes Philip Winchester (Strike Back), Wesley Snipes (Blade), Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall) and Damon Gupton (Empire).

Short-lived though it was (cancelled after a mere 9 episodes), Spike UK has seen fit to pick up the action drama from Sony Pictures Television. That caps off a successful run of lucrative international sales for SPT, who last year lined up deals for The Player in more than 100 international territories. The series certainly fits in with the acquisitions strategy for Spike UK, which C5 exec Marie-Claire Dunlop previously described as “finding those high-octane dramas with a male-skew”. The Player is set to premiere on Spike UK later this month.