On the surface, a Fox animated comedy seems like a no-brainer for any UK buyer. Especially considering that the US network has launched a long-list of hits in the genre that includes The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show.
That was certainly the thinking of the Channel 4 Head of Acquisitions Gill Hay when she acquired Bob’s Burgers, the most recent addition to Fox’s Sunday night animation line-up, for digi-net E4 in 2011. With all the DNA of those aforementioned shows, it had the makings of an international hit, but ultimately it failed to connect.
The E4 audience largely rejected the comedy, which follows a third-generation restaurateur as he runs his own burger joint with the help of his wife and their three kids, and so in early 2013 the C4 acquisitions team, then still under Hay (she would exit her post later that same year) decided not to renew their licensing deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, leaving Bob’s Burgers without a UK broadcaster.
That was how things would remain for some 30 months, until August 2015, when Comedy Central stepped in and acquired the UK rights to the Fox comedy, beginning with season three. Given, the show’s history in the UK there is little doubt that Comedy Central UK struck a good deal for the series with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution.
That said, picking up a show that has already failed to connect with UK viewers is a risky proposition, though certainly not unheard of (just look at the late deals for Breaking Bad, Once Upon A Time, Scandal etc). Comedy Central UK’s Director of Acquisitions Brad Wood, who brokered the deal, did not view the deal as a particularly risky one, however.
“[Bob’s Burgers] is actually a really strong performer across Comedy Central internationally”, Brad Wood recently told TVWise in a wide-ranging interview. “I think while we definitely have some cross-over with E4’s audience, it’s a show that could find it was on Comedy Central UK alongside shows like South Park and Brickleberry”.
Bob’s Burgers season three premieres on Comedy Central UK on Wednesday October 21st at 10pm.