Acquisitions Buzz: ‘Star Trek’ & ‘Designated Survivor’ Near UK Deals, Channel 4 Drops ‘Masters Of Sex’

EXCLUSIVE: At this relatively early stage, there have only been two deals concluded since the recent LA Screenings. The first such deal saw Amazon take exclusive UK rights to CBS’ Summer series BrainDead and American Gothic; while just yesterday ITV announced they had acquired Fox’s Lethal Weapon reboot from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution.

It will come as new real surprise to TVWise readers to hear that there numerous other deals are in the works, especially with such a well received slate of shows from the Hollywood majors, as well as independent studio Entertainment One. These deals, with a wide range of UK broadcasters, are expected to be concluded in the coming weeks and/or months, with a couple of announcements planned for the Edinburgh TV Festival.

That said, TVWise has identified two series which are closest to landing those lucrative UK deals: Star Trek, which was long expected to be subject to a heated bidding war; and ABC’s Kiefer Sutherland fronted presidential succession thriller Designated Survivor. Additionally, TVWise has confirmed that Showtime drama Masters Of Sex will not be returning to Channel 4. Full details follow below.

Star Trek

Quinto-Pine Star TrekIt’s no secret that CBS is prepping a new Star Trek series for CBS All Access. While few actual plot details are available, the new series is being shepherded by former Trek writer and Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller, who is serving as showrunnner. Fuller recently revealed that the show’s first 13 episode season will tackle a single serialised story and CBS have stated that it will feature a new crew, new villains, new heroes and new worlds. The writing team includes Fuller, Nicholas Meyer and Alex Kurtzman. The trio also executive produce alongside Heather Kadin, Trevor Roth and Rod Roddenberry.

Ever since CBS All Access announced the show late last year, UK broadcasters have been clamouring to secure the UK rights to the series from CBS Studios International. There are few broadcasters who haven’t shown any interest here, but the most serious bidders, I’m told, are Sky, Syfy UK and Netflix UK. I’m told the odds of it landing at Syfy UK are slim. Sky1 is keen to continue their track record of being the exclusive UK home of new Star Trek series, a record they have held ever since they poached the first window rights to The Next Generation in the 1990s, and there was word last month that the deal was all but done.

Now, however, it seems that Netflix UK is making a late play for the new Star Trek. Sources tell TVWise that the streaming service is looking to become the exclusive streaming home for ALL Star Trek series here in the UK. Netflix UK got a lot closer to that objective last week when they took exclusive UK streaming rights to every single existing Star Trek TV series in a deal with CBSSI and I’m told they are now looking to pin down the rights to the new show, as it was not included in their “bumper deal”. Representatives of Netflix UK declined to comment.

Designated Survivor

Designated SurvivorFrom 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.

With Kiefer Sutherland on-board from the get-go this was a show that has had UK broadcasters talking for months. The strongest interest seems to be coming from Netflix UK, who have been ramping up the number of show’s they acquire out of the LA Screenings. It’s worth noting that Netflix fought extremely hard for Canadian rights in a heated bidding war back in May, only to lose out to traditional Canadian broadcaster CTV. At the time, talk was that Netflix was working on a global deal with international distributor eOne. That seems to have cooled off, but Netflix UK is still interested in landing the show, despite keen interest from Channel 5 and Sky. Representatives of Netflix UK declined to comment.

Masters Of Sex

Masters Of Sex - Season 2Based on Thomas Maier’s book, Masters of Sex follows the real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The series chronicles the unusual lives, romance and pop culture trajectory of Masters and Johnson. Their research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a mid-western teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine and nearly a dozen appearances on Johnny Carson’s couch. The drama series is produced by Sony Pictures Television and stars Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Nicholas D’Agosto and Teddy Sears.

Channel 4 initially acquired Masters Of Sex in a two-season deal with international distributor Sony Pictures Television in 2013. The show’s first season subsequently launched later that same year, before Channel 4 shifted the series to their upscale channel More4 for its second season in 2014. There had been talk that, following Sky’s recent output deal with Showtime, the series would not be returning to Channel 4 for its third or fourth season. While a Channel 4 spokesperson confirmed to TVWise that they would not be airing any future seasons, I’m told by other sources that the show is not covered by the output deal as it is distributed by Sony Pictures Television, rather than CBS’ international distribution arm CBS Studios International. That leaves the series without a UK broadcaster and sources at SPT tell me there has been “no approaches” from another UK buyer since C4 declined to renew their deal late last year.