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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, it is currently unclear who owns the Canadian broadcast rights. 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.
In terms of where it will air in Canada, unfortunately we don't have a good answer at this point. Below, we'll explain some of the possibilities we're aware of, so you know what could happen.
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.
Will "Gangs of London" 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 is scheduled to air on the AMC linear channel in early 2021.
However, interestingly, AMC's 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 Corus-owned BBC Canada channel); AMC then began simulcasting the series in season 2.
We reached out to the AMC public relations team for clarification a few days before posting this, but had not heard back as of publication time. We'll update this post if we hear back from them. In the meantime, we'd consider AMC carrying the show in Canada unlikely, but not out of the question.
Where else could "Gangs of London" air in Canada?
A few weeks following that Globe story, Corus Entertainment (owner of Showcase) announced a deal with Sky Studios – also a co-producer of Gangs of London – for long-term access to its programming. At one point we thought Corus might be a likely rightsholder based on this Sky deal. However, Gangs of London was not mentioned in that announcement, and on further review, it's not clear whether Sky has anything to do with the series' international distribution – it appears lead producer Pulse Films has sold other international rights to the series on its own (to StarzPlay, in Latin America and parts of Europe).
So unfortunately, as of now, all this means the fate of Gangs of London in Canada is unclear. It's possible that one of the entities discussed above – AMC, Bell (either via Crave or Starz), or Corus (via Showcase) – has or will secure the Canadian rights. It's also very possible that a competing pay or streaming service like Super Channel, CBC Gem, Netflix, or Prime Video could assume the rights.
One last possibility is of some sort of dispute over the Canadian rights, following the changes to the U.S. rights, which has yet to be resolved – obviously that would delay the Canadian availability as well.
In addition to AMC, we've also reached out to lead producers Pulse Films to see if they were in a position to clarify the Canadian rights situation. We will update this post if they respond, or if we become aware of any other developments.
Thanks to Twitter reader Jon E. for his question prompting this post.