Universal Channel has acquired the US adaptation of legal comedy drama Rake after striking a deal with Sony Pictures Television.

The acquisition is part of Universal’s strategy to buy more first-run US programming from the LA Screenings, as well as focusing on more character-led dramas, rather than procedural series.

The NBC Universal-owned pay-TV broadcaster hopes to replicate the success of supernatural thriller Sleepy Hollow, which became the channel’s highest-rating launch this month, with consolidated figures of more than 670,000 for its first episode.

Rake stars Little Miss Sunshine actor Greg Kinnear as brilliant but self-destructive criminal defence lawyer Keegan Joye, who spars with everyone around him, from his ex-wife and judges to his bookie and the IRS.

The US series, which is produced by Peter Tolan’s Fedora Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television, will launch on Fox later this season.

The original series was produced by Australian indie Essential Media and Entertainment for public broadcaster ABC.

“Rake was one of the most talked-about series of this year’s LA Screenings and we knew it would be the perfect fit for Universal Channel and our new positioning,” said Universal Channel director James Newton. “It immediately became a prime target for us, and we’re delighted to have secured it this early, long before its US launch.”