ITV has acquired production company, Leftfield Entertainment Group.
The deal is just the latest in a long list of purchases with a number of American companies already taken over, or major share interest held, by ITVplc including Thinkfactory Media, High Noon Entertainment, DiGA Vision and The Garden Productions.
Now the 59-year-old UK broadcaster, formerly Granada Television, has acquired a controlling interest in Leftfield Entertainment Group from its founder and CEO Brent Montgomery. This acquisition, which has already gained regulatory approval, makes ITV Studios US Group the largest unscripted independent producer in America.
Leftfield and its brands produce more than 300 hours of unscripted programming for over 30 stateside networks. The portfolio includes Pawn Stars, Counting Cars, American Restoration and Real Housewives of New Jersey.
ITV will make an initial cash payment of $360m for 80% of Leftfield, with further potential payments dependent upon Leftfield’s continued delivery of significant profit growth. Brent Montgomery will remain CEO of Leftfield Entertainment Group under ITV’s ownership. – ITVplc
The acquisition of Leftfield represents considerable progress in ITV’s strategy of building a strong international content business, particularly in America. It gives ITV Studios a significant presence on both the east and west coasts and strengthens and complements our existing creative capability.
“Leftfield is a fantastic success story, rapidly growing from a single pilot to become one of the biggest indies in the US. The team has combined creativity with strong production expertise, with over 70% of the business coming from returning series and a pipeline of new ideas coming through in 2014 and into 2015 that is really encouraging.
“We are delighted that Brent and the team are joining ITV in what represents a significant addition to ITV Studios as we continue to build our global content business over the long term.” – Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV plc
It isn’t the first time ITV and its companies have attempted to have a major interest in American broadcasting. From the 1950s to the early 1980s ITV’s Midlands’ contractor ATV Network played a major part in co-productions with American broadcasters such as CBS and NBC, its sister company ITC Entertainment produced a host of series aimed at the states television market including This Is Tom Jones, The Saint and Thunderbirds. It lead to the television regulator axing the company from ITV after complaints it was more interested in ‘Birmingham USA, rather than Birmingham UK’.
Broadcasting regulations have changed since those days and ITV is now free to expand stateside without the fear of regulatory issues.