ITV has continued its overseas expansion with the acquisition of Leftfield Entertainment Group, producers of international hit Pawn Stars.
The series airs in the US, Australia and South Africa and in the UK where it was History UK’s highest ever rated original premiere.
Other programmes in the Leftfield’s portfolio include American Restoration and Real Housewives of New Jersey.
ITV will buy 80% of Leftfield from its founder and CEO Brent Montgomery for $360m, with additional payments dependent on future performance. ITV also has the right to buy the outstanding 20%.
The deal makes ITV Studios US Group the largest unscripted independent producer in the US and the company says it “will be earnings enhancing from day one.”
Montgomery, who will remain in charge, said: “This is an incredibly exciting time at Leftfield, as our agreement with ITV marks a major milestone in the company’s evolution and I am looking forward to working with them for the next five years and beyond.
“Two decades into the explosion of unscripted television, our business is changing more rapidly than ever. We’re confident that, together with our new partners at ITV, we will continue to deliver breakthrough programming for buyers around the world.”
Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV plc, added: “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.”
ITV’s acquisition of Leftfield follows its purchase in February of DiGa Vision, the US production company behind MTV’s hit supernatural drama Teen Wolf.