The Paramount TV Group has forged a groundbreaking three-year “strategic alliance” with the Procter & Gamble Co. – one of the world’s largest advertisers – to jointly finance programming for the networks and firstrun syndication.
Specific dollar figures weren’t disclosed, but the initial investment will represent a multimillion-dollar commitment on both sides. Each company will contribute 50% of pilot development and series production costs – defraying the expense of that process for Paramount – while P& G will have access to advertising time in each jointly funded series for the life of the program.
According to Paramount TV Group chairman Kerry McCluggage, the agreement covers firstrun programming for all dayparts as well as a minimum of 10 primetime network series of 13 episodes or more. P& G will have an equity stake in all firstrun shows, while overall creative control remains with the studio.
“For us, this was about altering the risk-reward equation,” McCluggage said, citing a changing TV landscape, which includes rising production costs and smaller returns on most programs in syndication. He also suggested several additional benefits related to the deal that potentially give the studio a competitive edge in selling and distributing programs.
For starters, any joint Paramount-P& G shows come with a major advertiser already committed to them. “I think it makes our shows more attractive to the networks,” McCluggage said.
In the same vein, P& G’s advertising clout will be a boon in the firstrun syndication marketplace in terms of securing clearances. P& G, which has engaged in cross-promotional product tieins with CBS, could also bring its enormous marketing leverage to bear in terms of launching new programs.
Though it’s unlikely either party would pursue another deal of this magnitude, McCluggage noted that the arrangement didn’t preclude Paramount from seeking other equity partners, while P& G said it plans to pursue other programming opportunities.
No existing programs are involved in the deal, with the pair expecting to announce their first joint project shortly.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble currently produces the daytime soaps, but has been without a regular West Coast programming presence, however, since closing its production office, Procter & Gamble Prods., four years ago.