Broadcast reports the BBC has paid more than £400,000 an episode to secure the UK screening rights for the second season of Heroes - despite the fact it hasn't shown the first series yet. This time last year, British channels were off to Los Angeles to buy the hot new shows of the 06-07 US TV season. Channel 4 did well by picking up sudsy newcomer Ugly Betty, but most other buys stiffed badly on American TV, and got quick cancellations. Friday Night Lights survived its first season and got picked up for a second by NBC despite meagre ratings - critical kidus saved its skin. [On this side of the Atlantic it's been buried on ITV4. Shame on you, ITV!]
One show that no British expected to last, let alone be a hit, was Heroes. This ensemble show about ordinary people who discover they have extraordinary abilities was such a lot priority that nobody from the NNC, ITV, Channel 4, Five or Sky bought it. Instead the Sci-Fi Channel picked up the bargain of the year, securing first UK rights. Heroes proved to be the 06-07 zeitgeist smash hit, with the kind of watercooler buzz seen previously on shows like Lost, 24 and The X Files in years gone by.
Once this became apparent, the BBC soon rectified its error by nabbing the terrestrial rights for season one of Heroes. [Sci-Fi isn't available to saps like me who don't have cable, don't have a satellite dish and can't get Freeview.] Sci-Fi's been enjoying bumper ratings with Heroes, and the show will make be on BBC2 this autumn. Rumour has it the channel will be giving it the full promo push, complete with BBC3 documentary spin-off [as seen on hit series like Doctor Who and Torchwood].
Now the BBC has gone the whole hog and bought Heroes season two outright, presumably outpricing Sci-Fi by some distance with its reported £400,000 bid. According to Broadcast, season one will be screened on both BBC2 and BBC3, no doubt running straight off the back of season one. Nice. In the meantime, the final season one episode screened in America last night - and I've heard it was rather good. Now, somebody hurry up and put the whole season on DVD, yes?