Archive footage from The Ed Sullivan Show, one of America’s most popular TV variety series, is becoming available to stream online.
Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) has signed an agreement with SOFA Entertainment Inc for the global digital rights to the show’s vast catalogue from its 23-year run on CBS.
Performances from the likes of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Neil Diamond, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Beach Boys and The Jackson 5 are available on YouTube this week, with more to be added in due course.
The Ed Sullivan Show was both a launch pad for up-and-coming acts and a place for established artists to deliver landmark performances.
An early performance from The Beatles in 1964 was watched by approximately 73 million viewers, helping to launch the so-called British Invasion.
Acts including Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, The Jackson 5 and The Rolling Stones also made early appearances on the show.
Sullivan, a presenter and journalist, hosted the show on Sunday nights on CBS from 1948 to 1971.
Notable guests from the worlds of film, comedy, sport, dance and theatre included Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren and Steve McQueen.
Many of the clips were previously only available in excerpted versions online or as low-resolution digital bootlegs.
Segments will be “upgraded” to high-resolution clips as part of UMe’s curation of the archive.
Bruce Resnikoff, UMe president and chief executive, 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.”
Andrew Solt, chief executive of SOFA Entertainment said: “SOFA Entertainment is thrilled to continue its decade-long relationship with UMe.
“The UMe team has the passion and expertise to honour 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.”
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.”