BBC Worldwide -- the BBC's main commercial arm -- has signed an exclusive deal with producer and arts distributor Medici Arts.

The deal, which is thought to be worth around £1.5 million ($3 million), will see Medici Arts gain access to 360 hours of classical music audio-visual material over a 15-year licence.

Medici will make available live performances, interviews and master-classes from the BBC over the last 55 years, featuring the likes of legendary voice Pavarotti, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, conductor Sir Simon Rattle and opera singer Dame Elizabeth Schwarzkopf.

Medici Arts, producer of the award-winning BBC Legends CDs and the Royal Opera House Heritage Series, will have download and streaming rights as well as TV sales rights outside the U.K. BBC Worldwide retains the right to make the same content available via its proposed commercial version of the BBC's iPlayer.

Paul Dempsey, BBC Worldwide's audio and music director, said, "As well as being fantastic for arts enthusiasts, who will be able to enjoy these classic recordings in the near future, the agreement will also see material, which currently sits in the BBC's archive in a condition which makes it impossible to broadcast, being fully restored and delivered back to the licence-fee payer."

BBC Worldwide generated profits of $222 million on sales of more than $1.5 billion in 2006/2007. The deal is the first of its kind between BBC Worldwide and a major arts producer and distributor.