While all eyes are inevitably on the slate of new series that will comprise the 2015 – 2016 broadcast season, several UK broadcasters are turning their attention back to the 2014-2015 season, looking to snap up a number of gems they missed or initially passed on acquiring after last year’s LA Screenings.
All in all sales were slow and a little depressed this past season, so there are a number of high-profile series still up for grabs. Those shows that are now being lined up for UK deals include Marvel’s Agent Carter, iZombie, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat and Galavant. Talks on all five series are currently happening, while other shows still firmly in the mix for potential UK deals include American Crime and Battle Creek – the latter of which will likely be picked up at something of a discounted rate owing to its recent cancellation.
Black-ish and Fresh Off The Boat are the closest to securing UK deals, as talks with international distributors Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution and Disney Media Distribution began some months ago, when it became clear both would make it to second seasons. It’s not immediately clear who the UK buyer is for either show, but sources have suggested Channel 4 was eyeing Fresh Off The Boat for E4.
As for iZombie and Galavant, both were identified by a handful of UK buyers as being “good shows” with “well-rounded” pilots after the 2014 LA Screenings. That said, I’m told no deals were done as there was some concern that iZombie would falter in the shadow of hit zombie drama The Walking Dead. Equally, Galavant’s “uniqueness” attracted attention, but again it was that quality that made some buyers assume it wouldn’t last – and truth be told if it weren’t for the UK’s recently instituted Tax Credits program (the show is shot in Wales) it probably wouldn’t have. Now that both are getting second seasons, UK broadcasters are re-considering.
The most interesting one here is Marvel’s Agent Carter. Sources at Disney Media Distribution say that they pitched the show to Channel 4 last year, hoping to convince the FTA broadcaster to follow ABC’s lead and pick up Carter to air in tandem with the second season of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. C4 execs passed, however, and at the time it was believed to be due to the short 8 episode order (shows with less than 13 episode orders have a hard time selling internationally, unless they have a pre-sold hook such as 24: Live Another Day or this season’s The X-Files revival).
It has been suggested that Marvel’s Agent Carter was hurt by the fact that there was nothing to screen at last year’s LA Screenings, outside of the DVD extra “One Shot” on which the series is based. Now, with an eight episode first season completed, Disney Media Distribution’s execs are confident that a UK deal for Marvel’s Agent Carter will be reached and announced by the end of the Summer, but from what I hear it’s not going to Channel 4 and the UK home may surprise some industry observers.
On the whole late deals of this sort – well after the season has ended – are rare, but not entirely unheard of. The most recent example of this was The Goldbergs, with Channel 4 holding out until the show got a second season before they decided on making a deal. Once it got picked up talks with Sony began in earnest and the 1980s set comedy has since been airing in the 7:30pm time-slot on weekdays, ahead of a move to a prime-time slot for its third season, which will air on E4 close behind the US airing this Autumn.