A-B DEALS INTO NBC GLOBAL BUYS

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Unlike the domestic U.S. TV marketplace, where constant demand for a finite supply of rating points has established an advance media buying season, the slowly maturing global media industry has yet to develop a true "upfront" marketplace.

A handful of multinational media players, such as Turner Broadcasting System and MTV Networks, have cut a few long-term deals with major international marketers. But with the exception of ESPN International, there's no comparison to the U.S. upfront's level of demand.

NBC International has set out to change that with the creation of an unusual incentive program that provides multinational marketers with incentives for committing to global or regional buys across NBC's international media properties.

Anheuser-Busch last week became the first marketer to sign on to the program, known as the Global Bonus Dividend, which provided coupons to more than 100 NBC U.S. upfront advertisers that can be redeemed for bonus time when making purchases of NBC's international outlets. Those channels include NBC Super Channel in Europe and Asia; CNBC in Asia; Canal De Noticias in Latin America and the U.S.; and NBC's partnership with Television Azteca in Mexico. In all, those channels reach an aggregate audience of nearly 130 million non-U.S. TV homes.

"We like to call it a financial incentive," said Norm Bierman, exec VP-NBC Cable and International, NBC Sales. "It is activated by bringing a cash commitment to our properties around the world."

Mr. Bierman said the dividend varies based on the level of commitment. "Essentially, for every $2 they bring to the table, they get an additional dollar in inventory."

He emphasized the program isn't a form of discounting, but is an incentive designed to attract international media budgets so advertisers get used to buying NBC's international properties on an annualized basis.

A-B already had been buying some of NBC's international properties on a piecemeal basis, including parts of Asia, and had had an earlier deal to sponsor NBA telecasts on Television Azteca. But the dividend program convinced the brewer to make a long-term, multimillion-dollar commitment beginning in January that covers NBC properties in every market they are carried worldwide, including "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno"; NBC Super Channel's "Talking Blues"; and various U.S. sports and NBA and Super Bowl coverage on Television Azteca.

"The fact that we executed this agreement in every region in the world with NBC is a testament to our support of their global vision," said Tony Ponturo, VP-corporate media and sports marketing at A-B.

Although the program was only offered to marketers within the last month, NBC's Mr. Bierman said NBC is negotiating with other marketers for similar deals, but he declined to specify whom. Advertising Age has learned that NBC may have cut a similar global buy with a major U.S. automotive marketer believed to be Chrysler Corp.

Because audience data for some regional markets is not as sophisticated as TV ratings available in the U.S., Mr. Bierman said it is difficult to compare the buys with U.S. CPMs. But he said the buys would be "quite efficient" when compared to U.S. costs.

"As you go across the world, CPMs get less important. What gets more important is distribution of specific programming, demographics and probably most importantly, creative and customized packages that relate to a client's global strategic efforts," he said.

In fact, A-B's deal calls for plenty of customized programming elements. NBC's Canal de Noticias, a Spanish-language news programming service reaching Hispanics in the U.S. and Latin America, will include a special sports news segment presented by A-B.

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