ITV Studios continues its rapid expansion with another acquisition — a controlling stake in reality production company Leftfield Entertainment Group, which is behind such series as Pawn Stars and Real Housewives Of New Jersey. ITV will pay $360 million for 80% of Leftfield, with further payments dependent upon Leftfield’s profits. There are put and call options in place to buy the remaining 20% under which a call option can be exercised from three years after the initial deal and a put and call at the end of year five. The deal makes ITV Studios US Group the largest independent unscripted producer in the U.S., the company says.
The acquisition, brokered by About Corporate Finance, also gives ITV Studios a presence on both the East and West Coasts. Leftfield Entertainment, founded by CEO Brent Montgomery, follows ITV’s acquisition in the last 18 months of Gurney Productions, High Noon Entertainment, Thinkfactory Media and DiGa Vision in the US as well as UK producers So Television, The Garden and Big Talk.
Before being acquired, Leftfield Entertainment Group itself was a buyer — the company was created when Leftfield Pictures acquired Sirens Media last March, followed shortly afterwards by the creation of two joint ventures – Loud Television and Outpost Entertainment. Leftfield Pictures sold its first series in 2008 and the group now produces more than 300 hours of unscripted programming a year for over 30 U.S. networks. Its production includes 26 series for 2014 and 31 development projects underway. Pawn Stars is History’s number one show worldwide. It has been ordered for 104 episodes this year to take its total number to almost 400 shows since its 2009 launch. Pawn Stars has traveled internationally to Australia and South Africa, as well as Britain where it was History UK’s highest-ever-rated original premiere. Other successful Leftfield series include Sirens Media’s Real Housewives Of New Jersey, the second highest-rated show in Bravo history, as well as History’s Counting Cars and American Restoration. Brent Montgomery remains CEO of the Leftfield Group. Sirens Media, Loud Television and Outpost Entertainment will all continue to report into him. “Leftfield is a fantastic success story, rapidly growing from a single pilot to become one of the biggest indies in the US,” said Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV plc. “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 2015 that is really encouraging.”