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Super Bowl relationships
OMD has an annual strategy of developing a special relationship with the Super Bowl broadcaster. Last year that was News Corp.'s Fox. An executive familiar with the talks, however, said a deal between ABC and OMD was "premature."
OMD's other major accounts are McDonald's Corp., Visa International and Masterfoods USA.
ABC said they had no comment. OMD executives were not immediately available for comment.
Zenith Media's president of broadcast, Peggy Green, said the rumors were untrue. "We are very quiet right now. We're not talking. I think it is too early."
Representatives for the other agencies did not immediately return calls for comment.
ABC called a good value
ABC is viewed as relatively good value given its poor ratings performance over the last couple of years, which had depressed the network's pricing. ABC's ad prices were up 5% last year; by comparison, CBS was commanding rates in the high single digits.
Executives familiar with conversations say negotiations with ABC on CPM increases are in the 4% to 6% range. CPM stands for cost per thousand, the metric by which agencies and networks trade viewers.
Cable deals brewing
Meanwhile, the cable market is reportedly close to signing some major deals, including one with Viacom, which buyers note has lots of ratings points to sell this year.
Viacom's cable properties, housed under the MTV Networks division, include 14 ad-supported channels, among them MTV, VH1, CMT, Nickelodeon, Spike and Comedy Central.
USA and OMD
USA Networks, which is announcing the hiring of a new sales head "shortly," according to a spokeswoman, is rumored to have done renewal deals with OMD. USA is part of NBC Universal.
Executives familiar with upfront talks dispelled a similar rumor of a renewal between OMD and Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting's cable networks TNT and TBS. CNN, however, has gotten the news market moving with a small deal in the auto category.
FX and Sony
Meanwhile News Corp.'s cable network FX signed some major third-quarter business with Sony Pictures, which will be the exclusive sponsor of the season premiere of Nip/Tuck. Sony will run all movie trailers throughout the show, which premieres in September. FX declined to comment on the deal.
"My sense of this is it's general rumbling and the beginnings of the market," said Tricia Wilber, senior vice president of ad sales at Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Cable Networks Group. "Has the market moved? I don't think yet."