June 24, 2009

Comcast, Verizon FiOS Partner To Sell Local Ads

Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. said Wednesday it would begin selling advertising this fall to rival Verizon Communications Inc.'s FIOS television service in 10 markets where the two companies compete.

The five-and-a-half-year agreement calls for Comcast Spotlight, Comcast's advertising sales division, to sell local and regional ads, or spot cable, for Verizon, Comcast said.

Comcast said the deal is its largest ad sales agreement thus far, and covers ad sales in Boston, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Pa., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Ore., Fort Wayne, Ind., Richmond, Va., Washington, D.C. and Seattle.

"Even as we and Verizon compete in other areas of our businesses, we both recognize the value of being partners in the advertising business," said Comcast's chief operating officer, Steve Burke, in a statement.

It is not uncommon for rivals such as Comcast and Verizon to do business together. For instance, telecom companies and satellite TV operators frequently pay fees to carry cable networks owned by competitive cable TV operators.

Comcast Spotlight president Charlie Thurston said the company has expanded its ad sales campaigns to include other providers.  And Comcast reached an ad sales agreement with rival Dish Network Corp. in January that involves Comcast selling ads for Dish's ten regional sports networks feeds in seven U.S. markets.

Comcast Spotlight and its partners reach some 30 million subscribers throughout the country.  For advertisers seeking national exposure, Verizon's ad inventory will be managed by the National Cable Communications (NCC), which is owned by Time Warner Cable Inc., Comcast and Cox Communications Inc.

Shares of Comcast were down 2 cents to $13.77, while shares of New York-based Verizon were up 18 cents to $30.70.


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