U.K. Television Group ITV Acquires ‘The Voice’ Creator Talpa for Up to $1.17 Billion

LONDON — The U.K.-based broadcast, production and distribution group ITV has acquired John de Mol’s entertainment show producer Talpa Media, which is the creator of singing competition format “The Voice.”

ITV will initially pay €500 million ($531 million) for 100% of the stock, which could rise up to €1.1 billion ($1.17 billion). This total is contingent on Talpa delivering significant profit growth and De Mol’s “continued commitment” to the business over an eight-year period. The acquisition does not include Talpa’s record label, 8ball Music, radio stations or its stake in Dutch broadcaster SBS Nederland.

De Mol founded Netherlands-based Talpa in 2004, since when it has set up or bought companies in several territories and regions, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Italy, the Nordics and the Middle East. Over the last six years, Talpa has created 75 shows airing in more than 180 countries, with 16 new formats broadcast last year.

“The Voice” has become a global entertainment blockbuster since its Dutch premiere in 2010 and has been broadcast in 180 countries. The eighth season launched recently in the U.S. on NBC to strong ratings of almost 14 million, topping the previous season’s finale. Spin-off show “The Voice Kids” has sold to 28 countries.

Other Talpa hits include game-show “I Love My Country,” which has been sold to 26 countries; dating game-show “Dating in the Dark,” which aired in 24 countries; game-shows “Divided” and “Battle of the Sexes”; and “Utopia,” a social experiment reality show, which launched last year and has sold to seven countries. Fox pulled “Utopia” from its schedules after two months on air in the U.S.

Before setting up Talpa, De Mol founded and ran Endemol Entertainment with Joop van den Ende. Its hits included “Big Brother.”

Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV, said: “Great content is at the heart of ITV’s growth strategy and the acquisition of Talpa builds on the success of our international content business and is absolutely in line with our desire to create and own formats that travel. John de Mol and his team have an incredible track record of doing that consistently over many years and I’m delighted to welcome them to the ITV family. This is a great opportunity for ITV to accelerate its progress in building a global content business of scale.”

De Mol added: “Of all the potential partners for Talpa, there’s no doubt ITV is the best fit. When it comes to the importance of content, the strategy of both successful companies is exactly the same and for Talpa this represents a fantastic opportunity for strong further growth. It also enables me personally to concentrate and focus even more on creating new, groundbreaking content.”

The Talpa acquisition represents the latest installment in the realization of ITV’s five-year “transformation plan,” which was put in place in August 2010, and renewed in July 2014. The plan’s strategic priorities are to maximize audience and revenue share from its free-to-air broadcast and VOD business; to grow its international content business; and to build a global pay and distribution business.

Since the plan was put in place, ITV has been investing heavily in production companies — many of which have been in the U.S. — as it attempts to reduce its reliance on advertising revenue from its free-to-air channels in the U.K.

In late 2012 and early 2013, ITV purchased controlling stakes in U.S. companies Gurney Prods. and High Noon Entertainment, and acquired 100% of the U.K.’s The Garden and Big Talk Prods. Later in 2013, ITV took a controlling stake in Thinkfactory Media, the U.S. producer of reality, entertainment and drama shows, including the Emmy award-winning “Hatfields & McCoys.”

Early last year, ITV bought a controlling stake in DiGa Vision, the U.S. producer of reality and scripted programming, including “Teen Wolf.” Later in 2014, ITV acquired Leftfield Entertainment Group, whose shows include “Pawn Stars,” “Counting Cars,” “American Restoration” and “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” The deal made ITV the largest unscripted independent producer in the U.S.

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