Surprising New Beat for The Rookie

Season four of Three’s The Rookie ends its run on Monday but to catch S5’s premiere a week later, fans will have to switch channels.

TVNZ 2 has picked up the police drama series to air 8.30 Mondays from April 10 on a double-bill with spin-off The Rookie: Feds.

And on Easter Saturday it will catch up viewers who haven’t seen the previous seasons on Three with a “Best Ever Rookie” compilation of earlier episodes.

Ironically, this five-hour block will screen opposite two of the procedurals that were in the same stable as The Rookie, Three’s NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.

It’s not clear how TVNZ acquired The Rookie given the series hasn’t reached its end-of-life run on Three.

Of course, it’s not the first time TVNZ has gazzumped a rival’s franchise. But both Prime’s SEAL Team and what should have been Three’s NCIS: Hawai’i were licensed through TVNZ’s new pact with Paramount Global (previously ViacomCBS).

TVNZ hadn’t responded to ScreenScribe’s query in time for this post while a Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson’s only comment when asked if WBD had relinquished rights to The Rookie was: “You’re correct that this particular show will cease to air on Three after the final. I don’t have further details beyond that.”

Distributor eOne has sold the ABC hit to more than 180 territories and it’s possible that on-going rights were part of the deal TVNZ concluded when acquiring The Rookie: Feds.

The two Rookie shows screen back-to-back on ABC and given the possibility of crossover plotting, combined with WBD edging away from primetime drama programming on Three and making cutbacks internationally, the timing of the new partnership appears to have been pivotal to the deal.

Moreover, Three has treated Rookie fans poorly of late, with S4 going to air a year after its US debut. But with more docuseries, reality and light-ent fare cramming Three’s schedules, the network doesn’t have the linear capacity for more procedurals when the 9-1-1 and NCIS franchises are still going strong.

NZ’s one of 110+ territories that has picked up Feds. Whereas the original stars Castle’s Nathan Fillion as the oldest rookie in the LAPD, Feds casts Niecy Nash-Betts (Reno 911!Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story) as the oldest rookie in the FBI.

Nash-Betts’ character Simone Clark was recently introduced in an episode of The Rookie that essentially was a backdoor pilot and because both series are LA-based, Fillion’s John Nolan appears in early episodes of the spin-off.

“We’re delighted with the tremendous response we’ve received in expanding The Rookie franchise with our newest instalment, The Rookie: Feds,” Stuart Baxter, eOne’s president of international distribution, said when the deals were announced.

The Rookie franchise has proven to be a ratings winner in the U.S., and we’re looking forward to replicating that success with our international partners around the globe.”

The Feds deal begs another curious point: like The Rookie, it’s a co-production with Disney-owned ABC Signature, and increasingly Disney has been saving its own TV productions for global release on Disney+ (Will Trent, Big Sky, Grey’s Anatomy … )

It will be interesting to see if the Feds strategy signals a move back towards traditional distribution models in the wake of streaming losing its lustre for everyone from Disney to WBD.

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One Response to “Surprising New Beat for The Rookie”

  1. Oh well, once the new streaming service from Warner Bros. Discovery starts in New Zealand no one will care what’s on TVNZ 😁

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