American Public Television has acquired U.S. public broadcasting and streaming rights for the last three seasons of Doc Martin, a popular British dramedy that aired its final season on Britain’s ITV in December.
Beginning July 1, seasons 8 and 9 of Doc Martin will be available for local broadcasts and on PBS Passport, the streaming service for station donors. APT plans to make seasons 6 through 10 available on Passport by the end of the year.
The syndication package is the first to bring episodes of Doc Martin to Passport. Broadcast and streaming rights will last two years, ending June 30, 2025.
“We’ve heard from 92 stations that are on board for carrying season 9,” said Dan Soles, VP of syndication and premium service for APT. “The majority grabbed season 9, but we also had a healthy amount for season 8.” That season was the last batch of new episodes to be syndicated by APT. It debuted on public TV stations in 2019.
APT began syndicating Doc Martin to public TV stations in 2008. Starring Martin Clunes as Dr. Martin Ellingham and a cast of quirky characters, Doc Martin built viewership market by market and eventually became a pledge drive hit for local stations.
Producers of Doc Martin announced in 2017 that they would end the series with season 9, delivering the finale to debut in the U.S. in 2020. But they backtracked and decided to produce a tenth season. Once those episodes debuted in Britain, APT was ready to scoop up rights to the final season.
Viewers who want to catch-up on previous seasons of Doc Martin have a patchwork of options. APT holds syndication rights to the series’ first five seasons through June, Soles said. As for streamers, the free ad-supported streaming TV services Pluto and Crackle have the first six seasons and Tubi has the first five.
Subscription streamer Acorn TV, which specializes in British programs, is the only platform that offers all ten seasons. It is part of an international company that licenses, commissions and sometimes co-produces British and Australian television programs for international distribution.
In 2018, Acorn TV withheld broadcast and streaming rights to season 8, keeping the new episodes program exclusive to its SVOD service. The season became available for public TV broadcasts in January 2019. As part of the agreement at the time, each episode carried two 15-second Acorn TV branding spots. Acorn TV branding spots will not be packaged into new episodes under APT’s latest agreement, Soles said, though viewers will invariably see Acorn TV branding in the credits.