And in another jolt, Walt Disney Co. for the second straight year stunned competitors by not making an upfront purchase on Fox for Disney's movie divisions.
There were more surprises as the network TV prime-time upfront ad buying period developed in earnest last week.
BJK&E Media, New York, on the heels of not closing a deal with CBS for daytime, was also having a hard time finalizing a deal with that network in prime time because it was unwilling to pay the firm 4% cost-per-thousand viewer increases.
And NBC, with its attractive demographics, had a good chance of setting a new upfront record of more than $2 billion in business.
While P&G clearly has myriad choices beyond ABC to find its 18-49 female target, it would seem Disney needs Fox's younger skewing audience.
The networks are usually hard on the studios, exacting steep CPM increases in exchange for reach and flexibility. NBC, for example, was extracting 15% increases from studios wanting to tap the network's big Thursday night audience. Overall, NBC was getting increases of 10% to 12%.
Disney, through its media buyers-Interpublic Group of Cos.' Western International Media, Los Angeles-balked last year when Fox wanted CPM hikes of about 25%. Disney then was going to spend about $20 million on Fox; the money ended up going to other networks and spot buys.
This year, say those with knowledge of the discussions, Fox wanted to stick Disney with a 37% increase over two years ago-last year's 25% plus another 12%. Again, no deal was struck. Neither Fox nor Western would comment.
OTHER P&G DEALS
TeleVest, New York, is P&G's media buying agency, and closed a number of other daypart deals on ABC except prime time, where the network's ratings in the 18-49 demo dropped 13% this year.
P&G, the U.S.' largest advertiser, spent $30 million to $35 million on ABC prime-time last year.
"This still could be gamesmanship between ABC and TeleVest," said one executive close to the talks, and a deal could happen.
Ironically, one of the prime-time shows ABC hopes will be a big winner, "Clueless," comes from a programming consortium of Paramount TV and P&G.
By close of business last Friday, the prime-time upfront was expected to be at least 75% completed. While NBC was hoping to hit the $2 billion barrier, ABC was looking for $1.5 billion and CBS was telling buyers it expected to reach $1.1 billion. Fox was expecting to be around $900,000.