Belgravia Bypasses Primetime for DVD

If you’re tired of waiting for Belgravia, Julian Fellowes’ follow-up to Downton Abbey, to air or stream here, the wait is over — kind of.

The prestigious costume drama is being released next month on DVD without benefit of a broadcast or streaming run.

Inexplicably, despite its pedigree and appeal in an Anglophile market like NZ, none of the free-to-air broadcasters, Sky TV or streaming services has picked it up here.

And if you were hoping to view Belgravia in HD … Universal Pictures NZ is distributing it only on DVD, not Blu-ray, which is a pity given its “sumptuous” production values.

Factors that may have discouraged broadcasters like TVNZ 1 or Prime (the original home of Downton Abbey) from licensing Belgravia are its mixed UK reviews and six-episode duration.

Adapted from Fellowes’ novel about a family secret that spans 20 years, from the eve of the Battle of Waterloo to the 1840s, it was always intended to be a limited series with a self-contained story.

That’s not an incentive for FTA channels, who want series they can build an audience for long-term.

Fellowes is open to writing a second season but apparently doesn’t have everyone’s support.

Belgravia also didn’t rate as well as ITV was hoping, with the premiere averaging half as many viewers (3.6 million) as the season premiere of the final Downton Abbey series in 2015 (7.9 million) — although trade paper Broadcast described its consolidated rating of 5.8 million viewers as a “bright start”.

However, the Daily Mail reported viewers criticised Belgravia for being a “poor man’s version” of Downton Abbey with “almost identical music and set”.

Meanwhile, there’s still no sign of a NZ broadcast or streaming date for the hit Kevin Costner ranching drama, Yellowstone, which has just opened its third season in the US with bonanza ratings (Deadline reports it was “the most watched season premiere on cable in nearly two years”).

The series streams on Stan in Australia, where you also can buy the first two seasons on DVD (but not here).

I can understand why Yellowstone wouldn’t interest FTA networks but it would be a natural for Sky 5, where male-skewing dramas like Bosch and Longmire had their NZ premieres.

It’s possible Yellowstone eventually will slip under the wire here to fill the void left by COVID-19 halting the production of so many US fall series.

It also took Sky three years to ‘discover’ the Jennifer Lopez drama, Shades of Blue, a three-season police drama it’s been running back-to-back on Sky 5.

Given broadcast re-runs dominate that channel, you’d think it would be keen to have a scripted exclusive as popular as Yellowstone.

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3 Responses to “Belgravia Bypasses Primetime for DVD”

  1. Yellowstone sounds like an excellent show.I wonder why it’s been ignored here 🙁

  2. This is a great show. I have watched the first episode on a streaming site called Peacock but when you go to pay to get the next episodes you get tripped up. This is annoying as it is a great show and the trailers show it just gets better.

  3. Thanks, Kevin. You may have to find other means of procuring it. Pushing people into downloading/streaming content from unauthorised sites is inevitable when a flagship production such as Belgravia isn’t picked up here for broadcast/streaming and is available only on DVD, which is a crummy format for the show’s plush production values.

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