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Simon Cowell buys Sony out of Syco television business, but major retains music assets

By | Published on Thursday 16 July 2020

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell has restructured his partnership with Sony Music in a deal that will see him buy the major out of his TV business. However, Sony will retain ownership of the Syco Music catalogue and roster.

Cowell came to Sony Music via the SonyBMG joint venture, he having scored a number of significant successes for the original BMG record company in the previous decade. As he morphed from talent show judge to talent show mogul, his interests in media and TV grew and the Syco business emerged.

Sony first bought Cowell’s share of Syco Music and Syco Television in 2005, subsequently forming a joint venture with him in 2009 that encompassed the ‘Got Talent’ and ‘X Factor’ franchises, artists who came out of those series, and various other activities.

It turns out that Cowell had a buy-back option relating to the TV assets in his joint venture deal with Sony and that is what has been activated now. He will acquire Sony’s rights in ‘Got Talent’ and ‘X Factor’, which will transfer to an entity called Syco Entertainment, wholly owned by Cowell. However, Sony will retain the music elements of Syco, including its catalogue of recordings and its current roster of artists, who will remain signed to Sony Music.

Confirming all this, Sony Music Group boss Rob Stringer said yesterday: “At this particular contractual crossroads, it was simply the right thing for Simon to take control of his TV assets and propel his company in a new direction. Sony Music has had incredible global success with so many artists that have been launched through Simon’s vision and innovation and we are proud to continue to represent the Syco music catalogue and its artists. On a personal note, it has been an amazing adventure working with him as we have shared so many exciting pop culture moments as friends and partners”.

Cowell himself added: “I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Rob and all of the Sony Music executives, artists and partners all over the world. It’s been a unique partnership and Sony have always backed and supported me to create television formats. The shows we created have found so many amazing artists over the years and so many of the various Sony labels all over the world have enabled so many of those artists to fulfil their dreams. We have all shared some incredible achievements, and importantly we have had lots of fun”.

“I won’t say this was an easy decision to make”, he went on. “However, sometimes you have to personally support something you are so passionate about. I’ve always believed it’s important to take on new goals in order to drive new ideas and creativity, so I’m very excited to be taking an independent and creatively-led Syco Entertainment into the future”.

Although the popularity of the kind of talent shows Syco excelled in has long since peaked, in some markets at least, Syco says that there are currently 76 local versions of the ‘Got Talent’ franchise, while ‘X Factor’ shows still air in more than 130 territories.