NEW YORK -- Television's coldest network is turning to one of its hottest for help.
Struggling ABC announced Monday that it had signed a deal with HBO to have the cable network's independent production arm help develop new programming over the next two years.
ABC has suffered a dramatic slide in the ratings over the past year, while HBO is on a critical and commercial winning streak with original programming like "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos."
HBO Independent Productions has been relatively inactive over the past few years as the network concentrates on developing its own programming. Its last big project, "Everybody Loves Raymond," is a hit for CBS.
"If that same lightning strikes, we'll be more than happy to take it," said ABC entertainment spokesman Kevin Brockman.
ABC lately has turned to a fellow Walt Disney Co. subsidiary, Touchstone Productions, for many of its programming ideas. For example, 25 of the 29 new program pilots ABC ordered for this season were from Touchstone.
Now the network is reaching out to other sources for ideas.
The deal gives ABC the right of first refusal for any programming HBO Independent Productions develops over the next two years. HBO gets ABC's funding for the development process and a portion of the profits if any of the shows become hits.