While Dr. House treats patients in a Princeton, N.J., hospital, his success rate travels far beyond the Garden State.
As well as being a staple on Fox in the U.S., “House” is an international hit. The medical drama is the No. 1 U.S. show in Italy (Canale 5) and Germany (RTL) and near the top of the list in Sweden (TV4), France (TF1) and the Netherlands (SBS6).
“In those territories, they embrace shows with single leads, and they tend to like crime and medical shows,” says Belinda Menendez, head of international TV at NBC Universal, which distributes “House” worldwide.
The fact that “House” is procedural has also helped it become an overseas hit.
“They like to have a case and then see it resolved. … The closed-end shows are very valuable from a scheduling perspective,” Menendez explains. “Serialized shows can be effective but challenging in today’s market. You have to tune in every week. Most shows can’t manage that.
“With ‘House’ and ‘Law and Order,’ it’s like a can of Campbell’s soup. You know what you’re going to get.”
A cast with origins from around the world is also a bonus. Jesse Spencer, who plays Dr. Chase (although not seen much in recent seasons compared to when the show first began in 2004), is from Australia and, of course, Hugh Laurie, who plays House, has been a renowned thesp in his native U.K. since the early ’80s.
Although he keeps his Blighty accent in check playing an American doctor, his recognition overseas is certainly a selling point early on.
“People said, ‘Hey, that’s the guy from “Blackadder” (the popular British comedy that ran in the ’80s), and now he’s got an American accent,” says Jeff Ford, managing director of digital channels and acquisitions for terrestrial web Five, where “House” is a longtime hit.
“The great thing is that U.K. auds got him right away. The first three or four seasons of the show averaged 2.5 million viewers, which is a lot over here. That’s a 12% share, a sizable chunk.”