Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), the global catalog division of Universal Music Group (UMG), has inked a deal with SOFA Entertainment Inc. for the global digital rights to The Ed Sullivan Show library, which encompasses the influential television program’s historic 23-year primetime run on CBS.
This marks the first time that Ed Sullivan Show performance and guest segments will be officially available in their entirety across streaming services worldwide.
Launching today (June 12) on The Ed Sullivan Show’s official YouTube channel, the first segments showcase landmark live musical performances.
Included in this vast catalog are iconic clips that have primarily only been available in excerpted versions on EdSullivan.com or as low-resolution digital bootlegs.
Scores of rarities will also be available digitally for the first time.
Many segments will be upgraded to high-resolution clips as part of UMe’s strategic curation of the show, which it describes as, “a national treasure”.
Available now, the first seven segments to stream under this new arrangement celebrate music artists, with a new video premiering every day and thousands more clips from the catalog to stream over the next three years.
UMe plans one or more videos daily on The Ed Sullivan Show’s official YouTube channel and EdSullivan.com, both newly updated.
The Ed Sullivan Show featured some of the earliest or first televised performances of music superstars including Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, The Band, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Jackson 5, The Mamas and the Papas, The Supremes, and The Rolling Stones.
The show also previewed films (African Queen, American In Paris, Best Years Of Our Lives, Bridge On The River Kwai, Roman Holiday) and interviewed icons like Brigitte Bardot, Charlton Heston, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Peter Sellers, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, and Steve McQueen.
Ed Sullivan, who was personally involved in his show’s bookings, was known to have said he wanted to “entertain all of the people some of the time” – from providing grandparents with glimpses of vaudeville to offering parents Hollywood stars and sports figures to bringing teenagers their next poster idols, and youngsters the Italian mouse, Topo Gigio.
Over the course of two decades, he cast aside racial, political and cultural boundaries to ensure that audiences witnessed the best and the brightest.
In a time of segregation, Ed Sullivan, an influential Civil Rights advocate, invited African-American actors (Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll), athletes (Muhammed Ali, Jackie Robinson), comedians (Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson) and musicians (Harry Belafonte, James Brown, Motown artists such as Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes), to name just a few, to appear on the show.
For many Motown artists, a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show represented a pivotal career milestone bringing their talents to mainstream America and catapulting them to the top of the charts with breakout success.
He was also the first to bring country music (Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Jimmy Dean, Brenda Lee and Buck Owens) to national television viewers.
“Ed Sullivan was a pioneer of his time and is responsible for many pivotal TV performances and significant moments in entertainment history.”
Bruce Resnikoff, UMe
Bruce Resnikoff, UMe President & CEO, said: “UMe is proud to continue its successful relationship with SOFA Entertainment. Together we will transform an incredible treasure trove from The Ed Sullivan Show to the streaming era and to new audiences.
“Ed Sullivan was a pioneer of his time and is responsible for many pivotal TV performances and significant moments in entertainment history.
“We will now introduce these high-quality landmark television performances from musicians, comedians and Broadway that catapulted the careers of many icons to a global audience.”
“The UMe team has the passion and expertise to honor Ed Sullivan’s legacy and create new ways for people around the world to enjoy it.”
Andrew Solt, SOFA Entertainment
Andrew Solt, CEO of SOFA Entertainment, added: “SOFA Entertainment is thrilled to continue its decade-long relationship with UMe.
“The UMe team has the passion and expertise to honor Ed Sullivan’s legacy and create new ways for people around the world to enjoy it.
“I’m overjoyed that the SOFA Entertainment stewardship is now in the hands of my son, Josh, who has experience with digital content including five years at Google.”
“We have enormous potential to build The Ed Sullivan Show into a global brand.”
Josh Solt, SOFA Entertainment
Josh Solt, who is now President of SOFA Entertainment, said: “We have enormous potential to build The Ed Sullivan Show into a global brand.
“I am extremely excited that UMe shares SOFA Entertainment’s vision to make The Ed Sullivan Show accessible to existing fans and future generations.”
Music Business Worldwide