Large trove of history-making 'Ed Sullivan Show' archives to stream online

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A trove of historic TV performances by The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Beach Boys and others on “The Ed Sullivan Show” will be made available around the world starting on Friday under a deal to bring the program’s large archive to online streaming.

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Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), a unit of Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, purchased global digital rights to the long-running U.S. variety show and will offer full-length performances for viewing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” YouTube channel and EdSullivan.com.

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Sullivan’s show aired on Sunday nights on CBS from 1948 to 1971. The host welcomed established and up-and-coming entertainers, comedians, athletes, dancers and others. Sullivan, who was a newspaper reporter and columnist before becoming a TV pioneer, died in 1974.

In the past, only short clips of some performances were available online through official channels, along with unauthorized low-resolution videos.

UMe said it would release thousands of high-resolution performances from the “Ed Sullivan” catalog over the next three years, with at least one new video posted daily.

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The first batch includes The Supremes, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Neil Diamond.

Appearing on Sullivan’s show boosted the careers of many performers, from rock ‘n’ roll bands to country stars and Motown groups. The Supremes were featured 16 times.

In the group’s early days, “we had all the records that we have released that were not hits,” Supremes singer Mary Wilson said in an interview. “Once we made it big and we were on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ I knew that we had actually made it then.”

The Beatles gave their first live U.S. TV performance on Sullivan’s New York stage in February 1964, attracting a then-record U.S. television audience of 73 million people.

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Other memorable musical acts included Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones and The Doors.

UMe licensed the global digital rights to the series from SOFA Entertainment Inc, the company formed by documentary filmmaker Andrew Solt when he bought the rights to the show’s library in 1990.

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