Bravo Networks, which has been testing the new-media waters
since 1997, now plans to plunge in and significantly increase Bravo's and The
Independent Film Channel's presence in Internet and broadband content.
That effort may well involve incubating new networks in
those venues until digital cable's rollout reaches sufficient household numbers.
There has been cable-industry speculation that Bravo might, for instance, offer short
films under the banner, "Bravo Broadband Theatre," or under the banner of its
planned cable service, World Cinema Network.
AMC Networks has already adopted such an incubation
strategy with its AMC's American Pop! Internet service.
Kathleen Dore, Bravo Networks' president, confirmed
last week that she's "exploring both of those options." In fact, Dore
indicated that one option has gone beyond the exploratory stage, since IFC will
"soon" premiere new film shorts on its broadband site in what she termed a
"special window." These shorts will bow on the network a few months later.
To accomplish these aims, Dore last week reorganized the
networks' sales division and named executive vice president Joseph Cantwell to head
Bravo Networks' new-media division. Cantwell has been in charge of media distribution
and development since 1997.
Cantwell has already led IFC into broadband and Internet
content with live coverage of the Independent Spirit Awards and the Cannes Film Festival,
as well as with the first-ever broadband showing of a feature film, The Last Broadcast,
Among other areas that Cantwell will explore, Dore said,
Video-on-demand: Attractions for VOD initially will
be films, showcased as World Cinema Network offerings, but performing-arts events may come
E-commerce and interactive: Dore said Bravo was
"definitely exploring e-commerce opportunities" for products in the arts and
independent-film niches, such as videos, books, compact discs and travel possibilities.
There may also be "potential relationships with companies like Wink [Communications
Inc.]," she added.
Strategic alliances and acquisitions: These may
involve independent-film studios, home-video companies and arts organizations, she said.
Bravo Networks will also expand its Web role and seek to acquire other sites serving
Succeeding Cantwell as head of affiliate sales and
marketing will be Gregg Hill, who had been the company's Chicago-based Western
division senior vice president. Hill will also continue to oversee Bravo's newly
begun local-sales push.
Bravo is currently in 38 million cable homes, and IFC is in