One year after its switch to an ad-supported format, Bravo
is about to break the 50 million-subscriber barrier, and it has drawn 14 million local
ad-insertable homes, according to officials.
Bravo will end the year with an increase of 12 million
homes, taking it over the 50 million threshold, according to Bravo Networks president
Bravo's digital sister service, The Independent Film
Channel, has also posted strong growth this year, gaining 8 million subscribers, boosting
its distribution to 30 million.
Bravo this year racked up rollouts with MSOs such as
AT&T Broadband & Internet Services in Dayton, Ohio, and Dallas; MediaOne Group
Inc. in Naples, Fla.; Charter Communications in Hammond, La., and Johnson City, Tenn.; and
Cox Communications Inc. in Las Vegas and Hampton Roads, Va.
The network was also rolled out in systems owned by Comcast
Corp., Time Warner Cable, Insight Communications Co. Inc. and Pencor Services Inc.
In addition, this fall, Bravo got local ad-sales launches
from AT&T Broadband in Seattle and San Francisco and from MediaOne in New England,
including Boston and Cape Cod, Mass.
IFC's major launches this year included MediaOne in
Santa Clarita, Calif., and Cox in Las Vegas. It also got rollouts from Suburban Cable,
Charter, Cox, InterMedia Partners, BellSouth Corp. and Time Warner.
Referring to Bravo, Dore said, "The network has sort
of come of age this year."
Bravo began running advertising in September 1998, and the
addition of that revenue stream has permitted the network to jack up its investment in
original programming. "That's paid off in terms of ratings, and it helps to
drive additional distribution," Dore said.
This year, Bravo debuted the highly rated eight-hour
miniseries The Count of Monte Cristo, starring Gerard Depardieu. It will reair
today (Nov. 29) through Dec. 2.
In terms of IFC's carriage gains this year, Dore noted
that digital-cable deployment is now proceeding at a steady pace, and IFC is a service
that can help to drive digital tiers. It's worked for Insight.
"Our decision to add IFC as part of our overall
'Insight Digital' programming strategy -- and specifically as part of our
digital-movie [package] -- was driven by the popularity of this unique, original
service," Insight senior vice president of programming Pamela Euler Halling said in a
prepared statement. "We were seeking a tier-driving network, and IFC has proven to be
a great addition."
Insight recently added Bravo to expanded basic in Columbus,
Ohio, at the request of subscribers.
For 2000, Bravo Networks is projecting that Bravo will gain
another 5 million to 7 million subscribers, taking it to 55 million to 57 million,
according to executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Gregg Hill.
Hill forecast that IFC will be available to 10 million to
12 million additional homes next year. He also expects Bravo to pick up local ad insertion
in another 7 million to 8 million homes in 2000.
This year, the Southwest Florida Interconnect, which insert
ads on 30 networks, added Bravo to its roster. Officials there said Bravo offers local
advertisers a unique, very upscale audience.
IFC has enjoyed some extra media attention this year. Its
IFC Productions unit co-produced the independent film Boys Don't Cry, which
was theatrically released this year. The movie won critical raves, giving IFC a higher
profile in the film community and among consumers, Dore said.
IFC has the first post-pay TV window on Boys Don't
Cry, which the network will eventually own. IFC will use the films it is financing to
build a library.
Bravo Networks' parent, Rainbow Media Holdings Inc.,
just did a deal with Road Runner in which six networks, Bravo and IFC included, will
provide original broadband content for the high-speed online service.
For example, IFC will offer live coverage of regional film
festivals, such as the Independent Spirit Awards, and short-films on-demand via its
"Road Runner represents a giant step for us to reach a
broadband audience," Dore said. "We've tried to be ahead of the curve in
developing broadband content. Now, we're going to be in front of the largest number
of broadband subscribers."
There are good reasons why IFC is so interested in the
Internet. First of all, IFC's audience "mirrors," or is similar to, Web
users, according to Dore. And IFC has its eye on the future in terms of the distribution
of indie films. The Internet may prove to be a new distribution outlet for less expensive
independent films, she added.
"We may create a new distribution channel
across a high-speed platform," Dore said. "IFC can lead this move and become the
prime distributor across this new channel."
Bravo and IFC both have programming events set for next
month. Bravo will premiere a new Inside the Actors Studio episode featuring actor
Tom Hanks Dec. 12. And on Dec. 3, IFC debuts its original documentary on filmmaker Errol
Morris, A Brief History of Errol Morris.
IFC has also scheduled a Christmas Day salute to director
David Lynch, called "The Lynch Who Stole Christmas." The festival will feature a
number of Lynch's movies, including Lost Highway and Blue Velvet.
Next year, Bravo will continue to expand its original
programming efforts. The network has several news series in development, and it will
probably announce the two that it green-lights at the Television Critics Association Tour
in January. Bravo will also continue doing big-event programming, such as The Count,once per quarter next year.
On the programming side for IFC next year, it will continue
its Split Screen series and probably launch a second original show.