Disney Licenses ‘A Small Light,’ ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and More to UKTV

Disney is licensing a number of its original series to BBC Studios-owned broadcaster UKTV.

Among the shows that are set to appear on UKTV networks are Anne Frank drama “A Small Light” and all seven seasons of “Sons of Anarchy.”

“A Small Light” is heading to UKTV’s free to air network Drama in May while the complete series of “Brothers and Sisters” will go to UKTV Play this spring followed by “Sons of Anarchy” in the summer.

UKTV’s crime channel Alibi will also screen “Alaska Daily” and “The Company You Keep” this summer while sister network Dave will get Mike Tyson-inspired biopic “Mike” later in the year.

The deal was negotiated by Disney’s senior sales manager for content distribution Jenny Lamond and UKTV and BBC Studios’ global senior acquisitions manager Rachel Bailey and global head of acquisitions Melanie Rumani.

Disney’s position on licensing out its content has shifted substantially in the four years since Disney+ first launched, reflecting the changing landscape. Last November Disney inked a deal with U.K. broadcaster-owned streamer ITVX for shows including “Extraordinary” and “Under the Banner of Heaven” heading to the platform. “Extraordinary” also got a linear transmission on ITV as part of the deal.

All the shows under both deals will continue to be available on Disney’s proprietary streaming platform Disney+ in the U.K.

Since Bob Iger returned to Disney in 2022 he has indicated that with streaming underperforming in terms of financial returns, he is returning to past distribution models, both in terms of theatrical releases and television syndication.

“The streaming business, which I believe is the future and has been growing, is not delivering basically the kind of profitability or bottom line results that the linear business delivered for us over a few decades,” he said during an earnings call last year.

While previously Wall Street was prepared to swallow below-par financial results on the basis they were an investment in the future, the Netflix correction of 2022 effectively put an end to that, with some streamers no longer prepared to rely solely on subscribers to drive revenue.

Such is the recalibration that it remains to be seen whether Warner Discovery’s streamer Max will launch in the U.K. at all, given it would impact their lucrative licensing partnership with Comcast-owned media network Sky.