Comcast, NBCU Preparing Consolidated Media Review

Winner Could Emerge With Accounts Worth $1.2 Billion in Spending

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Comcast and NBC Universal are preparing to combine all their media accounts -- spread across a variety of different agencies, at several holding companies -- and put the consolidated business into review, according to people familiar with the situation. The winner of the process could emerge with accounts worth around $1.2 billion in media spending, according to one person familiar with the matter.

Executives with knowledge of the situation say incumbents across all brands will be invited to participate in the review process, though invitations have yet to be issued formally. Comcast recently finalized its takeover of a majority of NBC Universal, a move that is likely spurring this process.

Media duties for Comcast and NBC Universal are currently parked at a range of shops. At present, Universal Studios is handled by Omnicom Group's OMD; the bulk of Comcast's spending is supervised by Publicis Groupe's MediaVest; and media planning and buying are supervised by independent Horizon Media as well as Publicis's Fallon. Media spending for NBC Universal's owned-and-operated stations and for the company's theme-park operations are also part of the review, these people said.

The agencies involved either could not be immediately reached or declined to comment. Adam Stotsky, president-marketing, NBC Entertainment, who is said to be involved in the process, declined to comment.

It's not the first time in the recent past that Comcast has examined its agency relationships. Earlier this year, the company tapped Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency to handle creative for its XFinity service.

There will likely be wrinkles in the process. OMD also has CBS's media business -- CBS marketing chief George Schweitzer has long admired innovative work overseen by OMD U.S. CEO Alan Cohen -- which could make it tough for the agency to also handle NBC's media spending or strategy.

The move shows Comcast acting like a much larger marketer. With smaller media accounts spread across a number of different vendors, the company could be at a disadvantage.

Yet the strategy will be complex to put into practice. After all, what makes good media sense for NBC and NBCU cable channels may not be as logical for local stations. The company's theme parks may have a different mission to fulfill than Comcast's various TV services. And handling the media needs of a large movie studio on the order of Universal is no simple task.

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