Acquisitions Roundup: Channel 5 Picks Up UK Rights To 'CSI' Season 14, 'The Mentalist' Season 6 & More – TVWise

EXCLUSIVE: With pilot season, the upfronts and the LA Screenings now behind us, numerous UK broadcasters are in various stages of acquiring next season’s new shows for their schedules (Sky Living just acquired The Blacklist from Sony Pictures Television and Channel 4 acquired Showtime’s Masters of Sex, again from Sony Pictures Television, while Disney Media Distributions’ Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. & CBS Studios International’s The Millers and We Are Men are also close to landing sales with UK broadcasters). While all eyes are on these new series and the various deals that are being hammered out, TVWise continues its extensive acquisitions coverage with our broadcaster-by-broadcaster breakdown of which current shows will be coming back later this year or early next.
In this latest rundown (following our rundowns on Alibi, Comedy Central, Dave, FOX, ITV, ITV2, Really, Syfy UK, TCM, Universal Channel and Watch) we take a look at Channel 5. The terrestrial channel launched in the late 1990s and has been a major player in the acquisitions space ever since. The general acquisitions strategy has been to target what Channel 5 has billed as “unique drama” that will appeal to a broad audience, largely from the bigger broadcast networks in the United States. There has been the occasional comedy acquisition over the years, but they’ve rarely lasted on the channel. Key to recent ratings performance has been certain high profile acquisitions such as the CSI franchise and The Mentalist, while original commissions have also been important, with Channel 5 recently indicating that they would be looking beyond factual entertainment and may commission an original drama series within the next 12 months.
By and large the acquisitions strategy has panned out, with the channel’s highest rating imports being CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2.44 Million Viewers), The Mentalist (1.97 million viewers), Person of Interest (1.7 million viewers) and Once Upon A Time (1.5 million viewers). That said, with the recent staff changes at Channel 5 there has been a slight change in strategy. New Director of Programmes Ben Frow has stated his desire to make Channel 5’s schedule “less American driven” and this change has already been signified with the recent acquisitions of Australian drama Wentworth and Irish drama Love/Hate. There has also been recent chatter that by early next year Channel 5 will be shifting all of its acquisitions to the 10pm hour. That said, US series are still going to be a key part of Channel 5’s schedule and as such most of their current imports will be returning. I’ve confirmed that the broadcaster has picked up the UK rights, from various distributors, to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season 14, Dallas season 3, The Mentalist season 6 and Person of Interest season 2. They will all return to Channel 5 later this year or early next alongside recent acquisitions The Bible, Under The Dome and Wentworth. Full details follow below…
The Bible
From reality producer Mark Burnett, The Bible is a five part/ten hour docudrama series which re-tells famous stories as they unfold and reveals new insights into these iconic characters in context of the Bible. The series will feature some of the most famous stories ever written from Noah’s Ark and the Exodus to Daniel in the Lion’s Den to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The mini-series was produced by Lightworkers Media and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication.
This mini – which has already spawned a sequel at NBC titled AD: Beyond The Bible – became an unexpected ratings juggernaut for US cable network History (not to mention a source of some controversy) and, while Channel 5’s acquisition of the skein was unexpected, its seems clear that they are hoping to replicate the ratings success that the mini saw state-side. The Bible has the distinction of becoming the second mini-series produced for the US History channel to find a UK home on Channel 5, with the broadcaster having previously acquired and aired the three-parter Hatfields & McCoys.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Created by Anthony Zuiker, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation follows the exploits of a group of crime scene investigators working for the Las Vegas police department. The drama series is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall, Wallace Langham, David Berman, Elisabeth Harnois and Jon Wellner.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has long been a fixture on Channel 5’s schedule, with the broadcaster having been the home of first run episodes since the series launched in the UK in the early 2000s. Admittedly, on a certain level, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (and the entire CSI franchise as a whole) has become irrevocably identifiable with the Channel 5 brand. And for good reason, even in repeat airings the series draws big numbers for Channel 5, while new episodes frequently pull in in more than 2 million viewers. The show’s 12th season premiered on Channel 5 in March 2012 and averaged an audience of 2.5 million viewers, ranking as Channel 5’s highest rated first run US import. The show’s most recent season, the show’s 13th, followed in February of this year and did see a slight dip in the ratings; averaging an audience of 2.44 million viewers, down a mere 2% on last year but once again ranking as the highest rated US series currently airing on Channel 5. Under the terms of a longstanding multi-year agreement with CBS Studios International Channel 5 holds the rights to the upcoming 14th season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
A continuation of the late 1970′s series of the same name, Dallas marks the return to Southfork of J.R., Bobby and Sue Ellen Ewing, who bring with them their arsenal of secrets, schemes and betrayals. This time, they’re joined by the next generation of Ewings, who take ambition and deception to a new level. The drama series is produced by Warner Horizon Television and stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo and Brenda Strong.
With perhaps the exception of this year’s Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D., TNT’s relaunch of Dallas was perhaps one of the most talked about series amongst acquisitions executives (dating back to when it was still in development) of recent memory. It was in July 2011 that TNT handed a series order to Dallas and Channel 5 wasted no time in their efforts to acquires to acquire the series, with them entering talks with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution almost immediately. The broadcaster secured Dallas in October 2011, ahead of the series’ premiere in Summer 2012. A LOT of articles popped up this year about the “sudden” ratings decline of Dallas in its second season, but the truth is that the decline, while unexpected for TNT state-side and arguably due in no small part to the death of series star Larry Hagman, was more of a continuing pattern for Channel 5, rather than a surprising turn of events. Dallas premiered on Channel 5 in September 2012 and pulled in big ratings, with the debut pulling in a overnight audience of 2.9 million viewers (consolidating to 3.84 million viewers), nearly double the slot average. However, the series continually lost viewers across its 10 episode first season with the season finale pulling a consolidated audience of 1.6 million viewers (it should be noted, however, that the average audience for season, though skewed by the big premiere ratings and subsequent drop off, was 2.1 million viewers). The ratings decline continued when the show’s second season launched in January of this year, with the season premiere attracting a consolidated audience of 1.4 million viewers. The show wasn’t able to pull back anywhere near the viewership for season 1 and after dropping to around 1 million viewers, the series was pushed to a late-night time-slot. While the substantial ratings decline might have meant the end for any other series, when Channel 5 acquired Dallas from Warner Bros. they did so in a life-of-series deal and as such have the rights to any subsequent seasons of the show.
The Mentalist
Created by Bruno Heller, The Mentalist follows the exploits of Patrick Jane, a highly observant individual who used to claim to be a psychic and now uses his abilities to serve as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as they investigate a myriad of felonies. The drama series is produced by Warner Bros. Television and stars Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang, Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti.
Another longstanding acquisition for Channel 5, The Mentalist, alongside CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, is one of the channel’s most identifiable US imports. The series generated a lot of buzz at the 2008 LA Screenings and was one that Channel 5 subsequently managed to land in a exclusive deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution. At the time, The Mentalist had been considered a lock for a UK sale given what one source called a “light-hearted approach to crime solving.” Ever since its premiere on Channel 5, the series has been a big player for Channel 5, frequently ranking as one of the highest rated series on the channel. The show’s fourth season premiered on Channel 5 in November 2011 and averaged an audience of 2.18 million viewers, down slightly on previous years but still up on the slot average. The most recent season, the show’s fifth, premiered in November 2012 and averaged an audience of 1.97 million viewers; down nearly 10% on the previous season, but still ranking as Channel 5’s second highest rated series. Under the terms of an existing deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, Channel 5 holds the rights to the show’s sixth season, which is set to premiere on CBS state-side on September 29th.
Person Of Interest
Created by Jonathan Nolan, Person of Interest tells the story of John Reese, a presumed dead former-CIA agent who teams up with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes by using their own brand of vigilante justice. Reese’s special training in covert operations appeals to Finch, a software genius who invented a program that uses pattern recognition to identify people about to be involved in violent crimes. Using state-of-the-art surveillance technology, the two work outside of the law using Reese’s adept skills and Finch’s unlimited wealth to unravel the mystery of the person of Interest and stop the crime before it happens. The drama series is produced by Bad Robot Production is association with Warner Bros. Television and stars Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P. Henson and Kevin Chapman. In the opening episode of the show’s second season, titled The Contingency, Root has kidnapped Finch and Reese begs the machine to help find him. The machine has other ideas, however, and simply gives Reese a new number to deal with.
Person of Interest was a series that attracted a lot of buzz out of the 2011 LA Screenings. Part of that was down to JJ Abrams name (which these days is analogous with strong international sales), but buyers were equally intrigued and cautious about the series’ unique take on the crime procedural. That may have been the reason it took so long for Warner Bros. International Television Distribution to lock down a UK sale for the series. It was in May 2012, just as the series was wrapping its first season state-side on CBS, that Channel 5 announced that they had sealed a deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution to acquire the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to Person of Interest. The series then debuted in August 2012 to strong ratings with the premiere episode pulling in over 2 million viewers, ranking behind Dallas to become Channel 5’s highest rated debut of the past few years. And despite the fact that Channel 5 pulled the series from their schedule after 10 episodes due to what, at the time, insiders described as an “abundance of caution” regarding slipping ratings, Person of Interest has been a very strong performer for Channel 5. Across its 23 episode first season Person of Interest averaged an audience of 1.7 million viewers, ranking only behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Mentalist to become the third highest rated first run US series currently airing on Channel 5. Given the figures, Channel 5 will be bringing the series back for its second season. As part of the deal to acquire Person of Interest from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, Channel 5 holds the rights to the show’s second season.
Under The Dome
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, Under The Dome tells the story of a small town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by a massive transparent dome. The drama series, which has an order for 13 episodes, is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and stars Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Dean Norris, Natalie Martinez, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch, Colin Ford, Nicholas Strong, Jolene Purdy and Aisha Hinds. The series, which pulled in nearly 20 million viewers for its premiere state-side on CBS, was recently renewed for a 13 episode second season.
Under The Dome was as series that was generating a lot of buzz ever since CBS announced it had been given a series order in November 2012 (it turns out that anything with Stephen King’s name on it sells well globally, who knew, eh?). There had been a lot of speculation as to which UK broadcaster would land the series, with the Universal Networks International owned Syfy UK – who air another series based on a Stephen King Novel: Syfy’s Haven – considered the most likely. Following this year’s LA Screenings, where Under The Dome was almost universally well received by international buyers, Channel 5 announced that they had hammered out an exclusive deal with CBS Studios International to acquire the series. The acquisition was said to emphasise Channel 5’s continuing commitment to screen the best dramas from around the world, with Katie Keenan, Channel 5′s Head of Acquisitions, calling the series an “unmissable drama event” featuring a “world of intrigue, drama and action.” The show’s first season is set to premiere on August 19th at 10pm.
A reboot of Australian drama series Prisoner Cell Block H, Wentworth is set in the violent dangerous environment of the Wentworth Correctional Centre and follows struggles with inmates and provides insights into their fractious personal lives. The series is produced by FremantleMedia Australia and stars Shareena Clanton, Celia Ireland, Kate Atkinson, Robbie Magasiva, Aaron Jeffery, Catherine McClements, Kris McQuade, Danielle Cormack and Nicole Da Silva. The series was recently renewed by Foxtel’s SoHo channel for a second season.
The acquisition of Wentworth, while not entirely surprising given the fact that Channel 5 aired the original series, is understood to be part of wider shift at the broadcaster in regards to acquisitions. Recently installed Director of Programmes Ben Frow has stated a desire to make Channel 5’s schedules “less American driven” and the acquisition of Wentworth (as well as Irish drama Love/Hate) is part of this approach. The series has strong support at Channel 5, with Katie Keenan, Channel 5’s Head of Acquisitions, describing Wentworth as “a great addition to Channel 5′s drama output” which carries an “emotional punch.” Wentworth was acquired in an exclusive deal with FremantleMedia International in April of this year.