News round-up: ‘Block Out’ format sells to Spain and Netherlands; Abacus gain global rights to Andrew Sadek doc; Blue Ant shifts 320 factual hours worldwide; and more…

Block Out

RTVE and Avrotros buy ‘Block Out’ format

RTVE in Spain and Avrotros in the Netherlands have both commissioned local versions of Red Arrow Studios International’s gameshow format Block Out.

Originally created by Japan-based Nippon TV and Red Arrow Studios, Block Out made its debut in Thailand on Channel 7 and has also been sold to VTV in Vietnam and PT Cakrawala Andalas Televisi in Indonesia to air on ANTV. Red Arrow Studios International holds worldwide rights (excluding Asia).

RTVE’s domestic version will be produced by Gestmusic (an Endemol Shine Iberia company) and will air on its La 1 channel in 2020. Avrotros has commissioned Tin Can to produce its local version.

The format features two teams of four players – each with their backs literally against a wall – battle it out in a variety of physical games, combining trivia, strategy, and chance.

Tim Gerhartz, SVP, global sales at Red Arrow Studios International, said: “Light-hearted, feel-good entertainment shows which bring the whole family together have never been more important. With its fun combination of physical games and trivia, Block Out has all the components needed to entertain a broad family audience.”

The Dakota Entrapment Tapes

Abacus to distribute Andrew Sadek doc

Recently launched distributor Abacus Media Rights has acquired worldwide distribution rights for Fine Point Films’ documentary The Dakota Entrapment Tapes.

The film explores the story of Andrew Sadek, a North Dakota college student who in 2014 went missing and was later found dead after being coerced into become an informant for an aggressive police task force.

The 1 x 90-minute film, which has its world premiere today at Hot Docs Festival 2020, is written, directed and produced by Trevor Birney (The Go-Go’s, No Stone Unturned), founder of Fine Point Films. It was produced in Northern Ireland, with the support of Northern Ireland Screen, it was co-produced by Mairéad Kelly and executive produced by Brendan Byrne (66 Days and One Million American Dreams) and Michael Fanning (Rocky Ros Muc).

Abacus MD Jonathan Ford commented: “We are thrilled to add The Dakota Entrapment Tapes to the Abacus programming line-up.  It’s a captivating film from the award-winning team at Fine Point Films, which we are confident will have wide international appeal following its world premiere at Hot Docs.”

Blue Ant sells 320 factual and family hours globally

Broadcasters in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia have picked up more than 320 hours of factual and family programming, following a raft of new licensing deals by global distributor Blue Ant International.

Among the sales are Saloon Media’s The Bryk Retreat, a 7 x 30-minute series following designer Danielle Bryk as she takes over the daunting task of renovating the cherished family lake house amid family demands and tight timelines. This has new broadcast deals with U.S. specialty cable channel, Discovery, as well as Foxtel in Australia, Blackstar TV in South Africa and True Visions in Thailand.

Season five of 16 x 60-minute series See No Evil, from Arrow Media and Saloon Media, which explores how real crimes are solved with the help of surveillance cameras, has been picked up by Discovery in the UK and Italy, A+E Networks in Italy and Asia, Nine Network and Foxtel in Australia and ProSiebenSat.1in Germany.

The distributor has also secured a bevy of sales for its recently released factual series Witches of Salem (4 x 60-minutes), from Saloon Media, in association with Talos Films). It tells the tale of history’s most terrifying real-life witch hunt and has been picked up by ViuTVsix in Hong Kong, SVT in Sweden, A+E Networks for its History channel in Germany, Viasat World for Viasat History in Central & Eastern Europe, Baltics, Scandinavia, Russia and CIS and The Travel Channel in the US.

“In these unprecedented times, we are in constant virtual contact with our buyers around the world, helping them curate their slates and fill content pipelines to ensure audiences always have access to something fresh and compelling,” says Ludo Dufour, SVP, international co-productions and sales, Blue Ant International.

‘The Rookie’ sold to Japan and Norway; renewed for third outing

The Rookie

WOWOW in Japan and TV2 in Norway have picked up the Entertainment One (eOne) and ABC Studios co-pro police drama The Rookie for broadcast, with the show also having just been renewed for a third season by ABC in the US.

The show, which stars Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly) as John Nolan, the oldest rookie in the Los Angeles Police Department, has now been licensed to more than 180 territories.

“As our industry navigates the current climate together, we are working even closer with our distribution partners all around the world to ensure they have the content they need, so that their schedules remain full and their audiences entertained during these unsettling times,” commented Stuart Baxter, president, international distribution, eOne. “We’re delighted The Rookie has become a phenomenal success internationally delivering massive audiences all around the world that keep on building with each new season.”

Studiocanal inks first-run deal with Greece’s Nova

Forthnet-owned Greek pay-TV platform Nova has signed an exclusive first run agreement with French production and distribution company Studiocanal.

Under the arrangement, Nova will hold broadcast rights to a number of the company’s TV series on an exclusive basis in Greece and Cyprus, including ZeroZeroZero, Years And Years and Shadowplay.

The new agreement also includes on-demand rights for the distribution of content on the big screen, as well as simultaneous viewing on laptops, tablets and smartphones through the Nova Go service.

ZeroZeroZero is an eight-part Italian crime drama, based on the novel by Roberto Saviano, starring Gabriel Byrne, while Years And Years is a co-production between Studiocanal’s Red Production Company, BBC One and HBO. The six-part drama stars Emma Thompson and Rory Kinnear.

Shadowplay is co-produced by Studiocanal’s Tandem Pictures, Bron Studios and Germany’s ZDF and depicts Berlin in 1946, in the aftermath of World War Two, and stars starring Taylor Kitsch and Sebastian Koch.

Other shows included in the arrangement are Haut et Court TV and Quiddity’s psychological thriller Possessions and the mini-series On Death Row, produced by Movistar + in collaboration with Studiocanal’s Bambu Producciones.

Katerina Kaskanioti, Forthnet’s pay TV executive director, said: “We are delighted with our new partnership with Studiocanal, one of the greatest content companies in the world. The agreement will bring to our platform exquisite tv series driven by AAA talent and will further strengthen our premium content by adding even more value and diversity to our portfolio.”

Ruby Ring

Ukraine’s ‘Ruby Ring’ sold to Africa and Macedonia

Tanzania-based satellite provider Azam TV and Macedonian broadcaster Kanal 5 have both picked up Media Group Ukraine’s drama Ruby Ring.

The 95 x 45-minute run of episodes will be shown on Azam TV’s Azam Media channel, covering eight East African countries, alongside Kanal 5, following deals with distributor GoQuest Media.

Based on a KBS format, the series follows two sisters, Anna and Yana, whose lives change drastically due to events “that alter their destiny” and out them in conflict with each other for the “perfect life”.

Commenting on the deal, Jimmy George, VP of sales and acquisitions at GoQuest Media said, “Ruby Ring continues to go from strength to strength, resonating with international buyers. We are confident that audiences in Africa and Macedonia will be gripped with this series full of drama and suspense”.

A+E brings cop shows to Benelux

Belgium’s De Vijver Media-owned broadcaster SBS has picked up the first five seasons of Live PD: Police Patrol, as well as seasons three and four of Nightwatch, following a deal with A+E Networks International.

Big Fish Entertainment-produced Live PD: Police Patrol is a non-scripted series that brings viewers an unfiltered look at law enforcement officers in action across America, while Nightwatch, from Law & Order franchise creator Dick Wolf and his Wolf Reality company, along with 44 Blue Productions, follows multiple sets of partners in the New Orleans Emergency Medical Services unit as they fight to save lives on the often gruelling night shift.

“A+E International is thrilled that SBS will introduce a new audience to our unparalleled catalog of live, factual programming,” said Sarah Hussain, manager of international content sales for A+E Networks. “Series like Live PD: Police Patrol and Nightwatch resonate with global audiences because their stories of everyday heroism are universal.”

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