BBC Acquires U.K. Streaming, TV Rights to ‘Suits’ Following Series’ Record Year on Netflix/Peacock

The BBC has acquired rights to all nine seasons of the former USA Network legal drama “Suits,” the mockumentary “St. Denis Medical,” and Peacock’s “The Best Man: The Final Chapters” for the media giant’s iPlayer streaming platform and TV channels in the United Kingdom.

The three titles were acquired from NBCUniversal Global TV Distribution, the unit responsible for the licensing and distribution of NBCUniversal product to all forms of television and new media platforms in the United States, Canada and more than 200 territories internationally.

“Suits,” which ended its primetime run in 2019, last year began streaming on both Netflix and Peacock and dominated weekly household TV streaming. The show was Netflix’s most-streamed program in 2023, generating 57.7 billion minutes, the most ever recorded by Nielsen. The series most recently generated 682 million minutes across 137 episodes for the week ended Feb. 18, according to Nielsen.

“Suits” stars Patrick Adams as a young legal associate, who uses his photographic memory to talk his way into a job working for successful a trial lawyer (Gabriel Macht) at a New York City law firm, despite being a college dropout who never attended law school.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The series boasts an ensemble cast, which also includes Gina Torres (“Westworld”), Sarah Rafferty (“Brothers & Sisters”), Rick Hoffman (“Billions”), Katherine Heigl (“Firefly Lane”), and notably Meghan Markle before she quit acting to marry Prince Harry.

New ‘Doctor Who’ Sci-Fi Series Episodes to Bow on Disney+ May 10

Disney Branded Television and the BBC March 15 announced the premiere date for the next “Doctor Who” installment, the first-ever season of the venerable sci-fi series (first broadcast in 1963) to launch on Disney+ and release simultaneously worldwide.

Beginning May 10, at 7 p.m. ET on Disney+ in the United States and internationally (excluding the U.K.), viewers will return to “The Church on Ruby Road,” which premiered last December, and journey through two all-new episodes. In the United Kingdom, the season kicks off May 11, at 12 a.m. GMT on BBC iPlayer, followed by BBC One later that day.

The new season follows the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa, the 15th actor to play the lead role) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) through infinite adventures across time and space in the TARDIS. From the Regency era in England to wartorn futures, the duo champion the forces of good, while encountering incredible friends and dangerous foes.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The previously announced guest cast includes Aneurin Barnard, Anita Dobson, Yasmin Finney, Michelle Greenidge, Jonathan Groff, Bonnie Langford, Genesis Lynea, Jemma Redgrave, Lenny Rush, Indira Varma and Angela Wynter.

“Doctor Who” is produced by Bad Wolf with BBC Studios for Disney Branded Television and the BBC. Under the creative vision of show runner, executive producer and writer Russell T Davies, the series’ additional executive producers include Phil Collinson, Joel Collins, Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter. The new season features episodes directed by Ben Chessell, Jamie Donoughue, Julie Anne Robinson and Dylan Holmes Williams.

BBC News Launching on CTV/FAST Platforms

AMC Networks and BBC Studios, the commercial subsidiary of the BBC Group, March 13 announced the launch of BBC News as a 24-hour live news channel on a variety of CTV/FAST platforms. Initial launch partners are Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, Xumo Play, Vizio WatchFree+, Sling Freestream and Plex.

The BBC News channel delivers 24-7 coverage of breaking news and moments of global significanc. AMC Networks is the distribution and sales representative for BBC News in the United States through its BBC America joint venture.

As part of the BBC’s expansion in North America, BBC News has grown its news operation out of its Washington, D.C., bureau, expanding its nightly primetime coverage and developing programming focused on national news to better serve audiences in the United States and around the world, according to the news organization. BBC News live 24-hour coverage is anchored out of the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore. The channel features chief presenters including Sumi Somaskanda and Caitríona Perry in Washington,D.C.; Matthew Amroliwala, Christian Fraser, Lucy Hockings, Maryam Moshiri and Sally Bundock in the United Kingdom; and Steve Lai in Singapore.

“This is a significant milestone for the BBC as this launch will more than double the current reach and availability of the BBC News channel in the U.S. at a time when access to independent news and information is more important than ever,” Tara Maitra, chief commercial officer of global media and streaming for BBC Studios, said in a statement. “We’re proud to launch this channel with the support of so many of the leading CTV/FAST platform partners as we continue to expand the footprint of BBC News and bring the BBC’s journalism to wider audiences in the region.”  

“What a profoundly meaningful addition to the rapidly growing CTV/FAST space, at a time when access to authoritative and impartial news could never be more important,” Kim Kelleher, chief commercial officer of AMC Networks, said in a statement. “The BBC is one of the largest, most-trusted and comprehensive news-gathering organizations in the world. The arrival of BBC News as a live, 24-hour channel on these free platforms is a landmark moment for global news, our partner platforms and the entire FAST distribution ecosystem.”

“This latest addition to our news offering expands our diverse programming lineup and gives us the opportunity to reach an even wider audience via a well-respected and trusted international news source,” Amy Kuessner, EVP of programming for Pluto TV, said in a statement. “In today’s day and age, free round-the-clock access to a strong audience-centric news brand like BBC News is indispensable.”

“Live local and national news has always been a top performing category on Xumo Play, and with the addition of BBC’s 24/7 live coverage, our viewers can now enjoy a fresh, international perspective on major news moments happening across the world,” Stefan Van Engen, VP of programming and partnerships for Xumo, said in a statement.

“Samsung TV Plus is committed to providing a platform for a variety of global, national, and local news sources to share important updates that our consumers rely on,” Sarah Nelson, head of BD and strategic partnerships, Samsung TV Plus, said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with BBC Studios and AMC Networks to bring this 24-hour live news channel to our viewers, empowering them to stay informed and engaged with the world around them.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

This additional CTV/FAST distribution of BBC News is complementary to existing wide distribution on pay-TV platforms including DirecTV, Comcast’s Xfinity, Charter’s Spectrum, YouTube TV, Philo, Dish and others. BBC News programming includes popular flagship shows such as “Verified Live,” “BBC News America,” “Newsday,” “Influential with Katty Kay,” and “World Business Report” plus “The Travel Show,” “Click,” and “BBC Documentaries.”

Historical Docudrama ‘Julius Caesar: The Making of a Dictator’ Debuts April 2 on PBS

“Julius Caesar: The Making of a Dictator” — a new three-part BBC-produced historical docudrama that explores how the nearly five-centuries-old Roman democracy was overthrown in just 16 years — debuts on three consecutive Tuesdays April 2-16 (9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS App.   

The story of a brazen power grab that saw Julius Caesar consolidate the vast Roman Republic in his own hands, the series is told through the eyes of an expert cast of British and American historians, scholars, and political operatives (including a former head of MI5). Illustrated with dramatic moments and packed with contemporary resonances, the docuseries follows complex power dynamics playing out for enormous stakes.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Episode 1: “High Priest” (April 2)

The first episode traces Caesar’s ambitious rise as he seeks to become Consul, the highest political position in Rome. He forms dangerous alliances and bends the rules of the Republic, courting the popular vote, exploiting division, and using bribery and intimidation to get his own way. But his unconventional approach to politics and disregard for established customs sets him at odds with the conservative elite within the Senate. And one man — Cato — is determined to bring him down.

Episode 2: “Veni Vidi Vici” (April 9)

Caesar has brokered an uneasy alliance with the two other most powerful men in the Republic, Pompey and Crassus, and the trio dominate the political system. Caesar leaves Rome to take the governorship of Gaul — modern-day France — to conquer its people and win greater power and prestige. But events beyond his control threaten to unravel his plans and leave him isolated. Backed into a corner, he makes a decision that will change the course of the Republic — and Western history — forever.

Episode 3: “Ides of March” (April 16)

As Caesar takes control of Rome and consolidates his grip over the Republic, he awards himself ever-greater powers. Appointed dictator for one year to restore peace, he soon extends this to 10 years and then becomes “Dictator for Life.” His ambition turned to tyranny, Caesar has become untouchable, and Rome is now essentially a dictatorship. A handful of senators, including some of his closest allies, plot to end his rule in the only way they can: by taking his life. But will that be enough to save the Republic?

‘Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution’ Debuts on PBS June 18

The three-part series “Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution” will debut June 18 on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS App.

The BBC Studios docuseries captures the story of disco — its rise, its fall, and its legacy — from the basement bars of ’70s New York City to the peak of the global charts, told by the original musicians, promoters, and innovators as well as modern-day musical icons.

Disco embodied the height of 1970s glamour: a dance floor culture born in New York City that went on to take over the world. But its success also obscured its wider significance. Inextricably bound up with the major liberation movements of the 1970s, disco speaks to some of the biggest issues of today: LGBTQ+ identity and female empowerment. 

“Charting disco from its inception and global domination to the violent attempts to end the genre, ‘Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution’ reclaims its roots,” Sylvia Bugg, chief programming executive and GM of general audience programming at PBS, said in a statement. “Before commercialization, discothèques belonged to the marginalized and the dispossessed, who tapped into the beat-driven music and the disco scene in a battle for community, identity, and inclusivity.”

“There’s no doubt that disco had an enormous impact—not just on the musical landscape at the time of its emergence and far beyond, but as a social and cultural force for change,” Jonathan Rothery, head of popular music TV/commissioning editor, factual, at the BBC, said in a statement. “This documentary series from BBC Studios, which the BBC has supported together with PBS, will highlight many new or untold stories of the genre.”

“Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution” also underscores disco’s survival. Co-opted by the commercial mainstream, the genre dominated and flooded the market — the airwaves and record shops — leading to a subsequent hate-fueled backlash. As a result, the music and its ethos went back underground, where it evolved into an electronic dance sound that laid the foundations for contemporary dance culture.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Episodes include:

Episode 1: “Rock the Boat” (June 18)

The opening episode of the series looks at the roots of disco — how it emerged from a basic desire for inclusion, visibility, and freedom among persecuted Black, gay, and minority ethnic communities of New York City. It tells the remarkable story of how a global phenomenon began in the loft apartments and basement bars of New York City, where a new generation of DJs and musicians, such as David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Francis Grasso, and Earl Young (The Trammps), pioneered a distinct sound and a new way of spinning records. 

Episode 2: “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” (June 25)

Set against the backdrop of Black power and sexual liberation, the second episode takes viewers to the high watermark of disco in the mid ’70s. As disco conquered the mainstream, it turned Black women and gay men into superstars and icons. It was a world where the drag queen Sylvester was king, and Black women found a powerful new voice — one that fused Black Power with a call for sexual freedom. It was the birth of the “disco diva” from Gloria Gaynor and Candi Staton to Donna Summer and Thelma Houston. However, mainstream success by The Bee Gees’ soundtrack album “Saturday Night Fever,” The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” and Studio 54 took disco further and further from its roots of inclusivity and freedom, as straight, white men started to embrace and repackage the sound.

Episode 3: “Stayin’ Alive” (July 2)

The final episode documents the wellspring of resentment from white, straight, male-dominated, rock-loving middle Americans, as they targeted disco for its hedonism, femininity, and queerness. A vocal “Disco Sucks” movement began to gain momentum, culminating in the “Disco Demolition Derby” at Comiskey Park Stadium in Chicago, where organizers destroyed thousands of disco records in front of a baying audience of baseball fans. In addition, the hedonism and sexual liberation embodied by disco found itself stopped in its tracks by the AIDS crisis. Pushed out of the mainstream, the pioneers of disco retreated and regrouped. Cult disco DJ Frankie Knuckles left New York for Chicago, where he remixed disco breaks with R&B to produce a new genre of dance music — house. He and other disco pioneers kept disco alive as it evolved into world electronic dance music.

“Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution” features some of disco’s originators, musicians, promoters, and innovators, as well as modern-day musical icons, such as: Vince Aletti, Steve Ashkinazy, Bill Bernstein, Joyce Bogart Trabulus, Jocelyn Brown, Carmen D’Alessio, David Depino, Lisa Farrington, Nona Hendryx, Thelma Houston, Marshall Jefferson, Francois Kevorkian, Tina Magennis, Ana Matronic, George McCrae, David Morales, Tom Moulton, Colleen Murphy, John Parikhal, Kim Petras, Mark Riley, Allen Roskoff, Alex Rosner, Michelle Saunders, Jake Shears, Nicky Siano, Candi Staton, Jeanie Tracy, Barry Walters, Dexter Wansel, Anita Ward, Jessie Ware, Sharon White, Victor Willis, Earl Young, Jamie Principle, Robert Williams, Ron Trent, DJ Hollywood, Honey Dijon, and MNEK.

BBC Select Streaming Service Bows Natural History Doc Collection

BBC Select, the BBC’s ad-free documentary streaming service, has launched a curated natural history documentary collection. 

With wildlife and environmental programming spanning all seven continents, BBC Select’s earth-focused documentaries offer viewers the chance to dive deep into the beauty of the natural world and learn about how the planet, and the environmental threats it faces, has evolved over the last decades.  

The collection is dedicated to showcasing the best of the BBC’s nature, wildlife, and science programming, with more than 100 hours of content dating back to 1954, including titles featuring the widely beloved natural historian Sir David Attenborough and popular physicist and science presenter Brian Cox. 

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

BBC Select will also be the home of new, emerging natural science documentaries beginning with the premiere of North Atlantic: The Dark Ocean, available now to U.S. and Canadian audiences for the first time. Additional content highlights, made available with the launch of the natural history collection, include: 

  • “David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities” — Wildlife legend David Attenborough encounters some of the planet’s oddest inhabitants.
  • “Life on Earth: A Natural History by David Attenborough” — The landmark natural history documentary took three years to make and traveled to locations all over the world.
  • “Zoo Quest in Colour” — Thanks to a remarkable discovery in the BBC’s film vaults, the best of David Attenborough’s breakthrough nature documentary can now be experienced in color.
  • “The Wonders of Life with Brian Cox” — Brian Cox investigates the most complex and unique feature of our universe: life.
  • “North Atlantic: The Dark Ocean” — The natural history documentary sees underwater cameraman Ken O’Sullivan explore the perilous North Atlantic Ocean and discovers the mesmerizing marine life that lives there.
  • “Our Coast” — The travel documentary visits Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland and celebrates the heritage of these astonishing locations.
  • “Penguins: Meet the Family” — The nature documentary covers all 18 species of penguin.
     

Launched in the United States and Canada in 2021, BBC Select is available to audiences in the two territories via Amazon Prime Video Channels, the Apple TV app and the Roku Channel. 

BBC Studios Launches BBC Earth FAST Channel

In time for Earth Day, BBC Studios has launched a new BBC Earth free ad-supported television (FAST) channel.

Available now, the BBC Earth FAST channel brings more than 450 hours from more than 80 BBC Studios natural history shows to Amazon Freevee and Plex.

Content on BBC Earth includes:

  • Sir David Attenborough’s “Wildlife Specials” — Six of Sir David Attenborough’s “Wildlife Specials” are featured, including Elephants: Spy in the Herd and Gorillas: On the Trail of King Kong, in addition to several other Sir David Attenborough-presented natural history series.
  • Expedition Borneo — A BBC/Discovery Channel co-production, the series looks at a chain of steep mountains, deep gorges and high plateaus running down the spine of central Borneo. Protected from the outside world by this impenetrable terrain, the only people who survive in this wilderness are a few remote tribes. 
  • “Deadly 60” — From tiger sharks to giant centipedes, funnel web spiders to the golden poison frog, Steve Backshall’s latest adventure is a race against time to find the creatures others spend a lifetime avoiding.
  • “Galapagos” — The BBC/National Geographic Channel U.S. co-production looks at the inspiration behind Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory — a geological conveyor belt that has given birth to and seen the death of many species of plants and animals.
  • “Ganges” — A BBC/Travel Channel co-production in association with France 3, the series tells the story of the most extraordinary river in the world — the Ganges. Human life and nature bustle along her riverbanks, in a kaleidoscope of color and energy. 
  • “Wild Africa” — The BBC/Discovery Channel co-production looks at Africa’s burning sands, seas of grass and steaming forests, scarred by mountains and bejeweled with great lakes and rivers. 
  • “Wild Australasia” — The BBC/Animal Planet/ABC Australia co-production is a journey through time and space to explore Australasia’s natural wonders, delving into its hidden secrets to explain why its wildlife and wilderness are so special.

 

BBC Earth marks BBC Studio’s 12th FAST Channel since first entering the FAST space in 2019.

“We’re delighted to launch BBC Earth as a FAST channel,” Beth Anderson, GM/SVP of FAST channels for North America and Latin America at BBC Studios, said in a statement. “With availability on Amazon Freevee and Plex, U.S. audiences can now enjoy BBC Studios’ deep catalog of award-winning natural history programming, all editorially, personally curated and available for free. With Earth Day around the corner, now is the perfect time to tune in, marvel at the natural wonder and splendor of the seven continents and immerse yourself in the beauty of our ever-changing planet.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“With the addition of the BBC Earth FAST channel to Plex, we are bringing the natural world’s wonder and beauty to our users’ screens,” Shawn Eldridge, VP of business development and content at Plex, said in a statement. “The extraordinary content created by BBC Studios inspires us to protect and cherish our planet while immersing ourselves in astonishing storytelling. With hundreds of hours of ad-supported programming, there’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day than tuning in to BBC Earth on Plex.”

Classic BBC TV Series ‘Maigret’ Coming to Disc, Digital from Kino Lorber

Kino Lorber is bringing the classic BBC television series “Maigret,” from the early 1960s, to Blu-ray Disc and digital platforms.

Season 1 of the show, which went on the air in 1960, will be released Dec. 20. The Blu-ray Disc edition includes three discs and carries a suggested retail price of $49.95.

For retailers, the advance order deadline for the Blu-ray Disc is Nov. 22.

Unseen anywhere for decades, “Maigret” is considered the definitive adaptation of Georges Simenon’s famous novels. The BBC television production stars Rupert Davies as Commissaire Jules Maigret, the dogged French detective. Though Simenon’s books have been adapted many times, Davies’s celebrated, BAFTA-winning portrayal won the approval of Simenon himself, who stated: “At last, I have found the perfect Maigret!”

The three-disc Blu-ray Disc set includes all 13 episodes of season one, in which Maigret reckons with a “Murder in Montmarte,” “The Burglar’s Wife,” and various other vexing cases that only he can solve. “Maigret” has been remastered in high-definition from original film elements and is featured  in its original full-screen TV format.

The disc collection includes a restoration featurette, “The State of Maigret.”

“Maigret” was rebooted in 1992 and again in 2016. Earlier this year, the French film Maigret was released, with Gerard Depardieu as the fictional detective.

Disney+ Becomes New Home for Upcoming Seasons of ‘Doctor Who’ Outside the U.K. and Ireland

The BBC and Disney Oct. 25 announced that the long-running British sci-fi series “Doctor Who” has a new exclusive home outside of the U.K. and Ireland. New episodes of the venerable series will now be available exclusively on Disney+ beginning in 2023.

The announcement — which was made Oct. 26 by the next Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, during an appearance on “Live With Kelly and Ryan” — begins a new collaboration between the BBC and Disney Branded Television.

The show, which began almost 60 years ago, is also getting a new logo.

The BBC and Disney are working with returning showrunner Russell T Davies, who retakes control of the show in 2023. Davies was responsible for the series’ revival in 2005 and is credited with propelling the show into one of TV’s biggest hits. The show will be produced in Wales by Bad Wolf with BBC Studios Production.

“I love this show, and this is the best of both worlds — with the vision and joy of the BBC and Disney+ together we can launch the TARDIS all around the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while keeping our traditional home firmly on the BBC in the U.K.,” Davies said in a statement.

Alisa Bowen, president of Disney+, said bringing the show to the streamer would help introduce it to a new generation of fans across more than 150 markets around the world.

“The series is a perfect addition to our ever-growing catalog of global content that continues to make Disney+ the home for exceptional storytelling,” Bowen said.

The new episodes will return to screens in November 2023 to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the series, and will premiere exclusively on the BBC for the U.K. and Ireland. David Tennant, who was the 10th Doctor and returned as the 14th Doctor in the recent “The Power of the Doctor” special, replacing 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker, will play the role for three specials before Gatwa takes over the role as the 15th Doctor.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Ex-Hulu Executive Robert Shildhouse to Lead Business Growth for BritBox in North America

BritBox International on Oct. 24 announced the appointment of Robert Schildhouse as EVP of North America and GM of Group Marketing Services.

Robert Schildhouse

He will spearhead the subscription streaming service’s business growth in the United States and Canada, and lead its centralized global marketing services. Schildhouse will report to Reemah Sakaan, CEO of BritBox International, and will be based in New York.

His appointment comes after a year of accelerated global growth for the brand, a BBC Studios and ITV joint venture that specializes in British programming. BritBox recently launched in Nordic markets, expanding on its existing presence across the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Schildhouse will lead business development, commercial relationships, programming and performance marketing for BritBox North America. He will also oversee central marketing services, across Creative Studio, Media Buying, CRM and customer services, led by BritBox International executive Nada Arnot, SVP of marketing for North America and Group Marketing Services.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Schildhouse joined Hulu prior to its launch in 2008, progressing to become the leader of Hulu’s Content Acquisition organization. He later joined the CBS Global Distribution Group as SVP of digital licensing and distribution, where he later rose to EVP, responsible for monetizing the rights of the CBS and Showtime libraries to the streaming marketplace. Schildhouse later became EVP of business development, where he was responsible for authoring strategy to expand CBS’s global footprint. He began his career at GE Capital, where he was a graduate of GE’s financial management program.

“As we continue to drive the growth and strong momentum of our North America business, Robert will bring his proven expertise in leading innovative streaming and content businesses to our organization,” Sakaan  said. “It’s an exciting and pivotal time for BritBox, and I’m thrilled to be adding him to our passionate team, bringing the best of British to North America.”

BritBox International recently launched a robust global commissioning and co-production slate of original dramas and fan-favorite series, including “Stonehouse,” “Beyond Paradise,” “Three Little Birds,” “The Confessions of Frannie Langton” and “Archie.” BritBox North America also recently premiered the acclaimed original series “Sherwood,” with Karen Pirie.