ITV are reported to have spent tens of millions of pounds to secure Ant and Dec as regular hosts after fears the duo were about to be poached by Amazon.
But with their current ‘golden handcuffs’ deal about to expire, the network are spending big to keep the Geordie lads on side after rumours rumbled they could be tempted to defect to streaming giant Amazon.
It is now believed the duo – both 44 – will be sharing a contract worth £40 million to stay with ITV; with the chance the final price tag could rise to £50 million should they sign a contract for more than three years, according to The Sun on Sunday.
The new deal will mean Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will continue to host BGT, Saturday Night Takeaway, I’m A Celeb, and recent hit Ant and Dec’s DNA Journey – as well as developing new series for ITV.
“With their current golden handcuffs deal up for renewal, other broadcasters have been sniffing around — most notably Amazon who still have a lot of cash to splash,” an ITV source told The Sun.
“There was talk of them getting their own series on the streaming giant. ITV are desperate to prevent this and have come in with a new, big, big money, three-year deal,” the source continued.
The source went on to say the lads are the companies “most prized assets,” despite a series of issues in the last year.
The latest series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! saw ratings plunge against the previous series in 2018.
And many fans had launched an online petition to have disgraced host Ant permanently replaced by Holly Willoughby, 38, who had filled in for him in 2018 as he took time out of the spotlight following his drink-drive incident that saw him hospitalise a young girl after being drunk behind the wheel of his own car.
Holly and Dec had enjoyed some of I’m A Celeb’s biggest ratings ever when they teamed up for the 2018 series.
And while Britain’s Got Talent’s 2018 return hit high ratings back in June, the ratings were proved to be lower than those in 2018 – with the 2019 series regarded as Ant’s big return to the spotlight following his time off.
Meanwhile, Ant’s personal life continues to risk throwing a dark cloud over the pair – and ITV – as his divorce from make-up artist wife Lisa Armstrong, 43, rumbles on.
Many fans have sided with Lisa after she stood by Ant when it was revealed he had been in rehab for drug problems and put her “through hell” with mood swings – only for him to unceremoniously dump her after completing his rehab stint.
The couple are said to be at loggerheads over the final financial split for their divorce – with Ant believed to be worth around £62 million.
And ITV have come under fire themselves over accusations of treating Ant favourably by allowing him time off work following his drink-drive conviction, while fellow host Caroline Flack was dropped from presenting Love Island next month after being arrested for assault in December.