In what looks a key moment in the streaming revolution, Disney has announced that from Oct. 1 it will shutter its kids channels in the U.K. following the launch of Disney Plus and an inability to reach new carriage deals with Sky and Virgin Media.
All three linear Disney brand channels – Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Jr – will be taken off air, though other Disney-owned networks such as National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild and Fox will remain. Last year, Disney did the same in New Zealand shortly after Disney Plus was launched there.
“The direct-to-consumer service, which garnered more than 54.5 million subscribers worldwide in its first seven months, will now premiere all the latest films, series and specials from the three Disney Channels, along with offering a rich and expansive back catalogue of Disney Channel titles in the U.K.,” said Disney’s official statement.
Although Comcast-owned Sky is losing the three networks from its linear offerings, the broadcaster closed a distribution deal for the Disney Plus platform in March, giving subscribers another means of accessing the included shows and films.
London-based Scorpion TV has announced sales for two documentaries, “Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth” to TV4 in Sweden and VPRO in the Netherlands, and “The Twinning Reaction” to CBC Canada and Histoire in France. The company also announced the pickup of three new documentaries to its slate: Noel Dockstader and Quinn Kanaly’s “The Point of No Return,” Emmy-winner Lana Wilson’s “A Cure for Fear” and Out There Films’ “Fishing Expedition Amazonia.”
Produced by Academy Award-winning production company Grain Media, “Seahorse” is the story of Freddy, a gay transgender man who decides to carry his own baby in a world that is frequently hostile towards many parts of his identity. Lori Shinseki’s “The Twinning Reaction” examines the controversial Neubauer-Bernard experiment from the ‘60s in which twins were separated during infancy and tracked for years after.
BBC Studios has announced that its recently premiered UKTV Original drama “We Hunt Together” has sold to Showtime in the U.S., and will premiere on Sunday, Aug 9. Written by Gaby Hull and produced by BBC Studios, the series tracks a detective and her new boss as they attempt to track down a former child soldier and a sex worker responsible for a series of vengeful murders.
The series stars Eve Myles (“Torchwood”) and Bafta TV-nominee Babou Ceesay (“Damilola, Our Loved Boy”), Hermione Corfield (“Rust Creek”) and Dipo Ola (“Baghdad Central”). It is executive produced by Philippa Collie Cousins for UKTV and BAFTA-winner Hilary Salmon (“Silk”), Anne Pivcevic and Esther Springer for BBC Studios, with Lisa Osborne as series producer.
Impact Australia, the Oceania offshoot of Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and CEO Tyler Mitchell’s U.S.-based Imagine Impact content creation start-up, launched in Melbourne on June 23. Impact Australia is an 8-week accelerator program meant to identify and back promising storytellers from around the country. Originally meant to operate out of Melbourne, the program was moved online in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
After an open call for participants, 14 creators representing 10 projects were selected to be partnered with an experienced ‘Shaper,’ who will help craft a story to be pitched at an event in Melbourne this fall. The program also hosts twice-weekly speeches from established screenwriting talent.
BBC Three, BBC Scotland and Screen Scotland have partnered on a new initiative in which independent producers based out of Scotland will be invited to pitch factual entertainment format ideas meant to reflect realities facing 16 to 24-year-olds, prioritizing diverse, humorous and playful ideas that will attract young adult audiences.
Submissions to the program will be accepted starting July 1 and run through Aug. Up to eight will be selected for a paid development period in which they will be overseen and supported by the BBC. Successful submissions will then pitch to a BBC team, with two shortlisted for further financial backing to produce a pilot episode of their idea.
Mondo TV Iberamérica, part of Europe’s Mondo TV Group, and Basque-based MB Producciones have announced a new co-development and co-production partnership for two new 2D animated series: “Annie & Carola” and “Masked Cinderella.” Both projects were created by MB founder Myriam Ballesteros, a long-time Spanish animation industry vet who has been a driving force behind the country’s rapidly growing animation sector.
The deal will shift most of the IP of both series from MB Producciones to Mondo TV, who will then negotiate and finalize commercial agreements to close financing for each project. Mondo TV will also handle international distribution for both shows when they are delivered.
England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goal scorer and former captain Wayne Rooney is set to get the “Diego Maradona” documentary treatment from sports specialist producer-financier Lorton Entertainment. Bafta-winning filmmaker Matt Smith (“Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad”) heads the project, already in production.
The documentary will feature interviews with players and pundits as well as archival footage from his time as a youth player for Everton and his prolific years at United, as well a brief return to Everton before a stint in MLS with DC United and his current role as captain of Derby County. Ed Barratt produces with Lucy Hardy co-producing in association with Circle Circle Films. Stevan Riley, Julian Bird, Paul Stretford and Matt Robins executive produce.
German broadcaster SAT.1 has commissioned a local version of ITV’s smash hit game show “5 Gold Rings.” In the show, co-created by John de Mol and Possessed – part of ITV Studios, contestants place gold rings on a massive LED floor to answer questions. Each round of questions, the rings get smaller and placement becomes more crucial.
The format has already seen commissions in the Netherlands, U.K., France, Spain, Israel, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vietnam. In its native U.K., the series is heading into its fourth season, while in Spain, Antena 3 has already ordered a Season 2.
Edinburgh TV Festival has announced programming for its 2020 line up, including a conversation between Emilia Clarke and Paul Feig, a panel of European public broadcasting executives and a “Gangs of London” masterclass.
Feig recently directed Clarke in the holiday feature “Last Christmas,” but both have made indelible contributions to the TV landscape, Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in “Game of Thrones” and Feig as the creator of the cult-classic “Freaks and Geeks.”
Noel Curran, chair of the European Broadcasting Union will be joined by Delphine Ernotte, chief executive, France Télévisions; Thor Gjermund Eriksen, director general, NRK; and Ulrich Wilhelm, chairman, ARD to discuss how forward-looking public broadcasters can stay relevant and serve their viewers in an increasingly difficult TV landscape.
Members of the team behind Sky’s “Gangs of London,” including actors Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù and Pippa Bennett-Warner, director Gareth Evans, writer Lauren Sequiera and executive producer Thomas Benski, will reunite to discuss various subjects relating to their hit series while comparing and contrasting the benefits of working in TV and film.