Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment Sets Up Fresh U.K. TV Production Banner

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His "The X Factor" U.K. edition debuts down more than 2 million viewers with new judge Nicole Scherzinger. Does it portend a soft U.S. bow in September?

Over The Top Productions will be run by Syco global chief Nigel Hall and aims to develop "niche shows" for broadcasters globally.

LONDON – Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment is launching a startup production banner named Over The Top Productions.

Set up as a joint venture with Syco's global head of television Nigel Hall running the division, the company will focus on the development of "niche TV productions."

Syco said it is in "advanced talks with broadcasters over new formats and will be looking to hire a London-based development team."

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The move will put it direct competition with FremantleMedia, which produces Syco TV shows The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent here and will allow it to produce more formats such as forthcoming ITV series Food, Glorious, Food.

The move comes after Simco, the TV production arm of Syco Entertainment, doubled its pre-tax profits to nearly £33 million (roughly $53 million, to the end of March 2012, driven by the launch of the US X Factor.)

“Working alongside Simon Cowell in taking ideas, thoughts and pieces of paper and turning them into worldwide formats has been an extraordinary adventure,” said Hall.

“Looking at the future, I am delighted to announce the birth of Over The Top Productions and we are already in advanced talks with broadcasters over new formats.”

Charles Garland, global chief executive of Syco Entertainment, added: “This is an exciting next step for Syco Entertainment in our expansion plans and reflects our commitment to fostering creativity. Specifically, Over The Top provides us with another development pipeline which, under Nigel’s direction alongside his role as global head of TV for Syco Entertainment, I hope will see a wide and varied portfolio of formats coming to market.”

Syco Entertainment owns the format to The X Factor and Got Talent, both of which are global franchises.

Contracts with ITV for both British versions of the shows expire this year. Britain's Got Talent is expected to be renewed but the U.K. version of The X Factor is in doubt due to the loss of viewing figures since Cowell left the judging panel to establish the USA X Factor.