IFC Ramping Up VOD Plans

After tests this year, The Independent Film Channel will stage a nationwide launch of a video-on-demand service in early 2003 that features titles from its movie library, including Y Tu Mama Tambien, network officials said.

In January, the programmer will unveil IFC On Demand, offering cable operators one-dozen theatricals produced by IFC Entertainment, the programmer's film-production company.

Later this year, IFC also plans to offer one of its films -- a new documentary, A Decade Under the Influence, co-directed by Ted Demme -- as part of the new VOD service, and to create broadband content for that film.

IFC will step up its efforts on a variety of fronts now that parent Cablevision Systems Corp. has closed the sale of its sister service, Bravo, to NBC for $1.25 billion.

Former Bravo general manager Ed Carroll has moved over to run IFC on a day-to-day basis as executive vice president and GM.

"We now have the same management team that built Bravo, and we have set our eyes on creating another several-billion-dollar asset with IFC," said Kathy Dore, former president of Bravo Networks and now president of IFC Cos. "We're really poised to do that on a number of different platforms."

As part of this transformation, IFC will unveil its plans this week to turn the Clearview Waverly Theater in New York's Greenwich Village into the IFC Center.

The theater will be renovated and made into an exhibition space and resource center for New York independent filmmakers, according to Dore. One screening room in the center will be named "The Waverly" to reflect the theater's history.

Creating the film center is part of IFC's strategy of building itself into a leading brand -- an end-to-end company for independent films -- by funding, producing and distributing them on a variety of platforms, as well as creating original programming about them.

On the TV side, IFC is working on a variety of platforms -- VOD and broadband, in addition to traditional linear programming.

This year, the channel has tested IFC On Demand in beta trials with parent Cablevision -- both VOD and subscription VOD -- paving the way for a commercial rollout to the entire cable industry.