Global Showbiz Briefs: BBC Worldwide’s ‘Musketeers’ Sold To Multiple Territories; Sky Developing ‘Diabolik’ Series; More
BBC Worldwide Sells Drama ‘The Musketeers’ To Multiple Territories
BBC Worldwide is gearing up for its annual showcase in Liverpool next week and ahead of it has announced sales of 10-part drama series The Musketeers. Set on the streets of 17th century Paris, the series is made by BBC Drama Productions and co-produced by BBC Worldwide and BBC America. The new take on the classic characters created by Alexandre Dumas stars Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles, Alexandra Dowling and Maimie McCoy. Adrian Hodges is executive producer and lead writer. The series launched on BBC One in the UK in January and has been renewed for a second season. Sales deals have been concluded with Germany (ARD), Norway (NRK), Sweden (TV4), Ukraine (1+1), Greece (OTE) and Turkey (NTV).
BSkyB posted £3.75B in adjusted revenues for the six months ended December 31, 2013, up 7.6% on the comparable period in 2012, the company said this morning. Operating profit dropped 8% to £595M compared to the same period the year prior. Still, that was slightly better than the £586M some analysts had predicted as Sky faces increasing rivalry from BT over sports rights. Adjusted earnings (EBIDTA) were stable at £813M. Of note, there was strong demand for subscription products including TV, telephone and broadband with 873,000 signed up in the last three months of 2013; 42% more than the similar period in 2012. The operator now has over 5.1M broadband subscribers. Churn, one of the elements that investors are keeping a close eye on, was 10.8% for the period, up .5%, but down .2% for the final quarter. On-demand usage also increased threefold in the last quarter. Shares in the 21st Century Fox-controlled pay-TV provider were up 4.6% in morning London trading.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Colombia Orders 60 Episodes Of ‘ER’; ‘Tbilisi, I Love You’ Hits Georgia Theaters In February; More
Colombia Paging ‘ER’ With 60-Episode Order
ER is going Latino. Warner Bros International Television Production today announced the first Latin American format deal for the seminal medical series. RCN, Fox International Channels and TC have commissioned a local-language version for Colombia with a 60-episode order. Colombia’s Resonant is producing for air this spring. Originally produced in the U.S. by Constant c Productions and Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros Television, the series premiered on NBC in 1994 and ran for 15 seasons. It is the most Emmy-nominated series in history with 124 and notably helped kickstart the careers of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies. “Even though ER is a fundamental American series, its characters and situations are so strong, moving and universal that will surely find a place in the hearts of Latin American audiences,” said Fernando Gaitan, RCN’s VP Content and Production. “We are eager to have it on our screen.”
‘Tbilisi, I Love You’ Opening Next Month In Georgia
Tbilisi, I Love You, part of Emmanuel Benbihy’s Cities Of Love franchise that started with Paris Je T’Aime and New York, I Love You, has set a February 20 release date in Georgia. The movie is a series of 10 short films that are written and directed by natives of Georgia and take on a personal narrative about the republic’s capital city. Malcolm McDowell and Ron Perlman both feature. McDowell’s vignette centers on an actor who reluctantly agrees to a one-month shoot in Tbilisi and develops a love affair with the city. Perlman’s short sees him as a nameless American motorcyclist who rides through Tbilisi’s remote areas with a woman named Freedom. Tbilisi, I Love You is produced by Storyman Pictures David and Nika Agiashvili. Credo Cinema’s Jason Speer, Ever So Close’s Benbihy, as well as Paata Trapaidze are exec producers. A festival schedule is being determined. In the meantime, here’s a trailer:
The follow-up to International Emmy and Peabody Award-winning comedy/talk show hybrid The Kumars At No. 42 will bring the Kumar clan back to television after a seven-year break. The new show, titled The Kumars, is a six-part series …
Britain’s BT has pacted with Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media to offer its nascent BT Sport package on Virgin’s UK pay-TV service. The move comes just in time for the British Premier League soccer season which kicks off this weekend. The wholesale deal more than triples the number of BT Sport viewers, bringing the total to about 3M for the three channels (Virgin’s XL subscribers will get the channels for free and lower tier subscribers will be able to purchase them for £15.) Both BT and Virgin compete with Sky, the UK’s dominant pay player. However, Virgin also offers Sky’s channels meaning that following today’s BT pact, it becomes “the only place sports fans can enjoy every goal, try, penalty and heart-stopping sporting moment,” Virgin said in a statement. Sky, meanwhile, is giving Britain a “free day of football” on Saturday when it makes Sky Sports available to every UK household. As a rule, BT offers BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN HD for free to its broadband customers.
BT has steadily increased its position in the sports rights arena, outbidding ESPN for 38 live Premier League matches for each of the next three seasons in a £738M deal in 2012. (It has since acquired ESPN’s UK & Ireland TV businesses.) At the same time, Sky is paying £2.3B over three years for 116 live matches. Other players have tried and failed to take on Sky in the sports game, but some media watchers say BT isn’t necessarily eyeing a challenge to its supremacy in that domain.
Former BBC Daytime controller Liam Keelan was originally named dirctor of BSkyB‘s flagship Sky 1 HD back in December, but he later pulled out to move to BBC Worldwide. After opening up the search again, Sky has now …
EXCLUSIVE: British actress Annabelle Wallis has been cast in Sky Atlantic and BBC America’s just-announced four-part biopic Fleming. Dominic Cooper is playing James Bond creator/author Ian Fleming with Wallis as Muriel Wright, a woman with whom Fleming …
UPDATE: News Corp. “is pleased” with the UK regulator’s decision that BSkyB is fit to hold a broadcast license. But, the company took issue with Ofcom’s stance on former chairman James Murdoch, whose actions were called “ill-judged.” News Corp. said: “We disagree with with certain of the report’s statements about James Murdoch’s prior actions as an executive and Director, which are not at all substantiated by evidence.” (Full statement below)
PREVIOUS, 12:01 AM PT: Sky has passed the “fit and proper” test. British regulator Ofcom has concluded its months-long consideration of whether the satcaster is fit to hold a broacast license in light of phone hacking and other allegations surrounding News Corp.-controlled media properties in the UK. News Corp. owns 39% of Sky. The org today said: “There is no evidence that Sky was directly or indirectly involved in any of the wrongdoing either admitted or alleged to have taken place” at News Of The World or at The Sun. However, Ofcom was critical of James Murdoch, who stepped down as chairman of BSkyB in April this year. The org said today: “The evidence available to date does not provide a reasonable basis to find that James Murdoch… was complicit in a cover up” at the News International newspapers. But, while Murdoch was exec chairman of News International, Ofcom says it considers his conduct, “including his failure to initiate action on his own account on a number of occasions, to be both difficult to comprehend and ill-judged.”
Regarding his father, Ofcom says it does not consider the evidence currently available “provides a reasonable basis on which to conclude that Rupert Murdoch acted in a way that was inappropriate in relation to phone hacking, concealment or corruption by employees of [News Group Newspapers] or News International.” It also gave a pass to News Corp., saying it has no evidence to “reach any conclusion that News Corporation acted in a way that was inappropriate in relation to phone hacking, concealment, or corruption.”
The wide-ranging pact between Warner Bros and Sky announced today will see the two companies collaborate on distributing Warners’ movies across multiple platforms and boost releases and marketing in the UK and Ireland. The tie-up gives Sky’s Sky Movies channels subscription pay TV and PPV windows that will give its customers exclusive access to new Warner Bros releases about six months after their theatrical runs, and they’ll stay on Sky Movies exclusively for more than a year.
UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt To Be Ousted?
UPDATE: David Cameron has named Jeremy Hunt to the post of Health Secretary. Hunt told the BBC, “It’s a huge task. It’s the biggest privilege of my life. I’m incredibly honored.”
PREVIOUS: Jeremy Hunt may be on his way out as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle. Hunt fell under scrutiny a few months ago for what some considered a too-cozy relationship with the office of James Murdoch during News Corp.’s bid to acquire the whole of BSkyB. Hunt, whose official title is Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, expects to lose his post, sources tell The Guardian, although he recently oversaw what was considered a successful London Olympic Games. According to The Guardian, speculation is that he will make a lateral move to the Department for International Development. One name that’s popped up as a possible replacement should Hunt change jobs is Communications Minister Ed Vaizey.
Sky Revamps Acquisitions Team
Sky has promoted controller of acquisitions for Sky Entertainment, Sarah Wright, to controller of acquisitions for Sky, adding acquisitions for Sky Movies to her responsibilities. She replaces Simon Rexworthy, who will join Sky’s Strategy team from October. Wright was involved in the launch of Sky Atlantic and oversaw the acquisitions strategy for the re-launches of Sky Living and Sky Arts.
Following provisional findings in May, the UK’s Competition Commission has confirmed that News Corp-controlled Sky does not have a material advantage over its rivals in the first window pay-TV arena. Sky’s position in relation to the acquisition and distribution of movies in that window “does not adversely affect competition,” the org said. Sky has first-window rights to films from all of the Hollywood majors, but the Commission’s Laura Carstensen, who chaired the inquiry, said that is not what’s driving subscribers’ choice of pay-TV provider.
The findings come after UK regulator Ofcom charged the Commission to start a probe into premium pay-TV movie rights back in 2010. After the provisional findings were released in May there was blowback from rival providers including Virgin Media which disputed the Commission’s report. Today’s report coupled with the one in May represent a reversal of the Commission’s original stance in August of last year when it found that Sky’s deals with the Hollywood majors were anti-competitive.
In 2010, Britain’s Competition Commission began a probe into premium pay-TV movie rights at the urging of broadcast regulator Ofcom. At the time, Ofcom was concerned that the way Hollywood movies were sold and distributed “creates a situation in which Sky has the incentive and ability to distort competition.” Today’ provisional findings from the Commission’s Movies on Pay TV investigation are good news for the Rupert Murdoch-controlled group.
The regulatory body found Sky does not have a “material advantage over its rivals in the pay-TV retail market.” The Commission cited newcomers like Netflix and Lovefilm as providing an alternative for folks looking to access the latest movies at home.
Sky has rights to films from all of the Hollywood majors in the first pay-TV window while Lovefilm and Netflix have premium rights to films from Lionsgate, MGM and others. The Commission says it believes that as rival services increase their subscribers, the barriers to more first-window rights will fall. The commission further said it found that range of content and pricing are equally important to consumers as how recent the movies.