A unique first look at 'The Listener'

Fox's synchronized overseas rollout follows movie model

Fox's global channels division will claim a television first in March with the near-simultaneous premiere of a U.S. primetime series across 180 foreign broadcast outlets, months before American or Canadian viewers get their first peek.

Under the plan, Fox International Channels will launch "The Listener" during the first week of March, with the series debuting on NBC and Canada's CTV later in the year.

Produced by Shaftesbury Films in association with FIC, NBC and CTV, "Listener" is an hour drama about a paramedic who can read minds. It will premiere during a seven-day window on FIC channels including those in the U.K., Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Poland, Brazil and Turkey. A formal announcement of the launch is expected today.

"We chose to follow the same release model used for movies," FIC vp development Sharon Tal Yguado said. "All of FIC's regions are working together on a global premiere, which will take place the first week of March. ShineReveille, our international partner on this show, has sold the rights to the series in almost every territory outside of FIC's markets. Those territories will follow our premiere."

Added Shaftesbury chairman Christina Jennings, "The financing of 'The Listener' represents a timely model, bringing North American broadcasters NBC and CTV together with a major international network, Fox."

It also marks the next step in the growth of Fox's international channel division into something more than a formidable launchpad.

"The growth of multichannel TV has exploded, with just about every market slowly starting to move along the same path that the U.S. pioneered starting in the '70s," FIC and National Geographic channels boss David Haslingden said. "We had resources already located in most major markets that we could use to springboard from, and we had the benefit of a corporate mandate to invest in building long-term assets around the world.

"The extent to which you can fund full commissions from the programming budgets of your own networks gives you flexibility. This is the model that works in the documentary space because of the substantially lower production costs, and it is starting to work in entertainment, too."

Said Yguado: "Reaching a critical mass and programming maturity in the past two years pushed us to explore new programming strategies on a local and a global level, adding prebuy deals, original productions and co-productions to our acquisition portfolio. 'The Listener' is a great example; 'Dexter' (an FIC global prebuy deal) and 'Mental,' a drama series we are producing with Fox TV Studios, are also good examples."
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