Sony loses 'Idol' music rights to Universal

Minimum three-season deal is first under new UMG Co-CEO

Sony has lost the music rights to Fox's "American Idol."

"Idol" creator Simon Fuller and 19 Entertainment have struck a deal to partner with Universal Music Group.

The contract is part of a multiyear agreement for UMG's Interscope Geffen A&M division to market, promote and distribute "Idol" artist albums globally.

The announcement is the first major deal for UMG under Lucian Grainge, the company's new co-CEO. The deal is expected to be for a minimum of three seasons, Reuters reported.

"With 'Idol' celebrating our 10th season I wanted to inject some new power and weight behind our brand," Fuller said in a statement. "We have been quietly delivering hits relentlessly for nine seasons, and Lucian Grainge and (Interscope Geffen A&M chairman) Jimmy Iovine's ambition, commitment and determination to push the boundaries and go even further with 'Idol' was very compelling. It is exciting to have the world's biggest show partnered with the world's biggest music company."

Since its debut in 2001, "Idol" has sold more music than any other TV show, moving more than 100 million units in North America and more than 120 million songs on iTunes.