Sarah Wright, head of acquisitions, Sky1 (UK)
How useful/important are the Screenings to you?
Obviously, the US broadcasting model has changed over the past couple of years – cable channels, and Pay TV in general, are commissioning more original content and the networks are scheduling more new programming all year round – acquisitions is now a 365 day a year business. So it isn’t all about the markets – we’re constantly on the look-out for new shows. However, bearing in mind the sheer number of cancellations, snap decisions can be expensive for broadcasters. Markets provide useful focal points for discussions during the year and The Screenings remains the place for scripted series, particularly the buzz shows.
How are the Screenings different this year?
It’s very much business as usual at Sky. With established favourites such as Lost, Bones and 24 plus newbies Fringe and Lie To Me (both renewed for a second season) – not to mention the phenomenon that is The Simpsons – we have the best US series on the channel, so we’ve set the bar very high
Inevitably, the economic climate means that broadcasters will be less likely to rush in and engage in those bidding wars of old, particularly when so few shows are renewed for the second season in the US. However, we’re all looking for THE buzz shows.
Typically, how do US acquisitions fare on your channel(s)?
Acquisitions are a key part of Sky1’s DNA. As well as the unstoppable Simpsons, Lost and 24 are key shows for us, really adding shine to the channel brand. Bones is an unsung hero – its audience is large and very loyal and our new series, Fringe, has been a fantastic addition to the channel. Science-fiction has long been a mainstay, with the Stargate franchise and Battlestar Galactica both doing very well for us and unscripted series such as Project Runway doing great business.
What have you been particularly keen to see?
With E.R. now finished, it feels like the time could be right for a great new, action packed, medical drama – NBC has already picked up a high concept show called Trauma, so I’ll be keen to see that, plus Disney’s thriller Flash Forward could be one to watch.
Are there any slots you are keen to fill at the moment?
Our Sunday, Monday and Thursday night line-ups are particularly strong and science fiction works really works for us on Tuesday. Procedurals are always a favourite with our customers but equally big, single narrative event dramas do well like Lost and 24 resonate really well, and we’re also on the lookout for formats that might work in daytime or early peak.