After cancelling its expensive output deal with 20th Century Fox, just as it had with the other big studios, MediaWorks was forced to stop screening some of its most popular shows in November last year. But in late December it announced it had struck up a new relationship with the big US studio that will see many of the shows it lost returning this year, although they won't all be back, because Sky has nabbed some of the studio's big shows for itself.
Fox shows made up around 25 percent of Four's schedule, so losing them overnight was obviously a big challenge for the MediaWorks programmers (according to the Herald, the channel has also lost 32 percent of its audience since Nov 2012, in line with a big drop in total TV viewership last year). But the channel has got its big shows back, with programmes like New Girl, Glee, The Simpsons, Family Guy and more returning to the channel in 2014. MediaWorks will also return to its Fast Four strategy later in the year, with many Fox programmes broadcast in New Zealand the ‘same week as the States.’
TV3’s most popular international drama, Sons of Anarchy, will return, and the final season of How I Met Your Mother and a new series of The Simpsons will play on TV3. The deal also includes the new Robin Williams comedy The Crazy Ones, two new network dramas, Crisis and Gang Related, and a first run feature package that gives MediaWorks movies like The Descendants, Ice Age: Continental Drift and Prometheus for both TV3 and Four.
“This is fantastic news for the company, our viewers and our clients," says MediaWorks TV director of programming Mark Caulton in a release. "This new deal with Fox secures some of the very best international television for TV3 and Four audiences, and we couldn’t be happier to have reached an agreement that works for both parties. We’re delighted to have our key Fox shows back on air, and we head into 2014 in the best possible position to deliver great value to our viewers and commercial clients."
Not surprisingly, the release didn't mention which shows wouldn't be returning, but Sky was quick to let everyone know it had got the rights to Homeland, The Americans and American Horror Story, which will screen on the its premium pay TV channel SoHo, as well as Bones, Modern Family and Sleepy Hollow, which will screen on Prime.
Schedule information will be released in due course, but it has announced that the third season of Homeland will screen on 5 February at 8.30pm (on Facebook, Sky said it doesn't currently hold the rights to the earlier seasons).
Sky's director of programming Travis Dunbar said in a release that the deal will put an end to Kiwi viewers’ speculation on how they can catch up with their favourite Fox series.
“These dramas are made for US pay networks to screen un-cut and uninterrupted and in a prime time slot, making them perfect to include in our SoHo schedule. Our subscribers know that when we commit to a series they can rest assured it is in an environment that is not affected by ratings and therefore is not subject to being moved dependent on performance. We are also mindful that fans have had to wait longer than usual to see the latest episodes of these popular series so we are working hard with Fox to get them on-air as soon as possible. Going forward we will screen them on fast turnaround after their US premiere as we do with the majority of our SoHo series.”