The UK's Universal Channel have purchased the rights to A&E's Bates Motel; the Psycho-inspired TV drama starring Freddie Highmore as infamous would-be serial killer Norman Bates, alongside Vera Farmiga as his kooky mother. The show debuted in the US to 3 million viewers, and has already been renewed for a second season.
This is a good purchase for Universal, joining its US line-up of Law & Order, CSI and Major Crimes. It should help draw more viewers their way, but this likely means the chances of Bates Motel finding a big British audience just decreased. I guess this is what happens when there are so many potential imports and only a finite number of channels. On the upside, lesser-known channels like Universal can get their hands on a decent TV show; but the downside is those shows tend to escape mainstream attention. To an extent this also happens to bigger players like subscription-only Sky Atlantic, but Sky have enough budget to make everyone aware they have Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire on their books. Hopefully Universal will put some marketing muscle behind Bates Motel.
James Newton, Universal Channel's Director, has commented that the show is "... among the most distinctive and talked-about new dramas to emerge from the US this year, and we are extremely proud to be the channel opening its infamous doors to UK viewers. Reinventing one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history, we're confident the show will take Universal Channel to a whole new level."
Will you be watching Bates Hotel when it comes to the UK? I'm enjoying it more than I expected to, with expectations duly lowered after its unremarkable pilot. For whatever that's worth.