EXCLUSIVE: A+E Networks UK is bringing one of their premium scripted acquisitions to free-to-air.
TVWise can exclusively reveal that the company behind both History UK and Lifetime UK will be rolling out historical drama Vikings on their nascent free-to-air brand Blaze, beginning with the show’s nine episode first season, from next month.
Originally produced for the U.S. History network, Vikings hails from Michael Hirst (The Tudors) and follows the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok and his band of Viking brothers. The drama series, now in its fourth season and recently renewed for a fifth, features a large cast that across the years has included Gabriel Byrne, George Blagden, Travis Fimmel and Jessalyn Gilsig amongst others.
The series initially airs in the UK on Amazon Prime Video, who have a long-standing agreement with international distributor MGM Television. A+E Networks hold second window rights to Vikings, which airs on their pay channel History a year behind the Amazon premiere. As such, the decision to roll it out on Blaze means that this will be the first time that the show has been made available on a free platform in the UK.
Sources at A+E Networks UK tell TVWise that the unique move, which will see Vikings made available to a far larger audience (close to ten million viewers) who don’t have either Amazon or History, will be supported a major marketing campaign. Said campaign will include print and online advertising as well as on-air promos to bring in these potential new viewers. Notably, Vikings will be the first drama to air on Blaze since its launch last year. The show’s first season is set to premiere on the FTA channel on Sunday February 26th at 10pm