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Antena 3 bets on Brit skeins

Spanish broadcaster pacts with BBC for 'Sherlock,' 'Upstairs'

MADRID — Following its bet on new Brit TV fiction, Spanish Antena 3 TV conglom has inked free-to-air TV rights to two high-profile BBC Worldwide series: “Sherlock” and “Upstairs Downstairs.”

The BBC agreement comes after ITV period drama “Downton Abbey,” sold by NBC U, became the highest-rating foreign fiction debut for Antena 3’s core channel in recent years.

Aired Tuesday in Spain’s fiercely competitive TV primetime, “Downton” averaged a solid 16.2% share and 3.1 million viewers for its first two transmissions.

Antena 3 aims to replace “Downton Abbey’s” first season with the remake of costume saga “Upstairs Downstairs,” a BBC-Masterpiece-PBS co-production.

The Spanish broadcaster has still to announce when and where it will air “Sherlock,” BBC’s retread of Sherlock Holmes, produced by Hartswood Films.

The DeAPlaneta-controlled broadcasting group views international fiction as a key content for its four nationwide TV services, Antena 3, Neox, Nova and Nitro.

In January, A3 unveiled a deal with HBO that included TV series “Boardwalk Empire,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Pacific” and “Band of Brothers,” to be broadcast via A3’s male-oriented channel Nitro.

Highlights at A3’s youth-skewed service Neox include “Glee,” “Modern Family” and “The Simpsons.”