Struggling American broadcast television network ABC has struck a program production deal with pay-TV broadcaster HBO, the company behind such critically acclaimed hits as Sex and the City and The Sopranos.

Disney-owned ABC has been shedding viewers in recent months, as it has failed to create shows with enough appeal to make up for the waning popularity of game show phenomenon Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Under the two-year agreement, ABC will pay development costs for shows created by HBO Independent Programming in return for copyright and distribution rights over the finished product.

ABC will get first refusal to air the completed shows. Any it does not choose to broadcast can be sold to other networks. In such a scenario, ABC would be able to cease financing the project but still reap revenues from it when the show is sold elsewhere for distribution. For HBO, the deal means wider exposure for its output.

The alliance is the latest example of program producers and broadcasters collaborating to keep costs in check.

Data sourced from: The Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff