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The British action / crime drama Gangs of London, created by Gareth Evans and Matt Flannery, debuted on Sky Atlantic in the UK on April 23, 2020.
Production company Pulse Films announced the series in 2017, with the expectation it would air on Sky, as well as HBO's sister network Cinemax in the U.S., in 2019. That was obviously pushed back a bit.
Although the series is now available on AMC+ in the United States, for several months the Canadian broadcast rightsholder was unclear. In June, shortly after AMC's U.S. pickup announcement, The Globe and Mail reported that the show "lacks a Canadian distributor", or at least it lacked one at that point.
AMC subsequently indicated that Gangs of London would begin airing weekly on the AMC linear channel on Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET (or so) beginning April 4, 2021. Although we were initially skeptical (for reasons explained below), Gangs of London has indeed started airing on AMC in Canada, with the premiere airing on April 4 at 10:14 p.m. ET (after an extended episode of The Walking Dead).
Wasn't "Gangs of London" supposed to be an HBO / Cinemax show?
As mentioned above, HBO sister network Cinemax originally co-commissioned (jointly ordered) the series with Sky. If Cinemax had gone through with airing the series, the Canadian rights would have almost certainly been delegated to Crave, which airs the vast majority of HBO and Cinemax original programming in Canada.
However, during production of the series, HBO and Cinemax went through an ownership change and restructuring, ultimately resulting in parent company WarnerMedia developing much more programming for its new streaming platform HBO Max, and Cinemax phasing out original programming.
As part of that transition, Cinemax agreed to let the producers of Gangs of London find a new U.S. broadcast home for the show, which ultimately ended up being AMC.
It's fair to ask whether Crave could have kept Canadian rights despite the U.S. rights transfer. However, executives with Bell Media (Crave's parent company) are quoted in the same Globe article referenced above on other topics like HBO Max programming. Presumably, the Globe would have asked at that time about any Canadian rights they might have retained to Gangs of London; assuming they did, it did not affect the line quoted above about the show's lack of Canadian distribution.
Why was there confusion about whether "Gangs of London" would air on AMC in Canada?
The series was released on the channel's new AMC+ streaming service in the United States on October 1, and began to air on the AMC linear channel beginning in April 2021.
AMC's original press release announcing its acquisition only mentioned airing the show "for US audiences". AMC is also available in Canada through an alternate feed that includes most of AMC's original programs, but sometimes has had programs blacked out for rights reasons, and replaced with alternate programming. (The AMC+ streaming service is not currently available in any form in Canada.)
Overall, it's been rare for AMC not to pick up (or hold onto) the Canadian rights when they're available, and the network has not been shy about mentioning holding Canadian rights in other contexts. The only time we're aware of where AMC Networks (the company) has intentionally given up the Canadian premiere rights to a show that aired on AMC is Killing Eve, for which Canadian rights had been sold to Bell Media. However that sale occurred when AMC Networks was only planning to air Killing Eve on its BBC America channel (which is not available in Canada, and should not be confused with the now-defunct Corus-owned BBC Canada channel); AMC then began simulcasting the series in season 2.
We had reached out to both the AMC public relations team and producers Pulse Films for clarification a few days before originally posting this in October 2020, but had not heard back. Thus, we had posted here that we weren't certain whether AMC would be carrying the show in Canada.
We are happy to see now that despite the initial confusion, Canadians can watch Gangs of London after all on AMC.
Thanks to Twitter reader Jon E. for his question prompting this post.
- April 4, 2021 – updates / cleanup now that the series has now indeed begun airing on AMC in Canada
- March 23, 2021 – updated to reflect Gangs of London appearing on the schedule for AMC's Canadian feed
- February 27, 2021 – noted AMC's scheduling of Gangs of London on its linear channel in April, at least in the U.S.