'Dinner for 5' Goes Broadband

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To drive cable-modem penetration, the Independent Film Channel is providing extra footage from its popular Dinner for Five to cable operators.

The new broadband service will feature exclusive content from the series — a roundtable discussion over dinner among actors and directors, hosted by Jon Favreau — that does not appear on television. The service will be free to cable operators, IFC said.

Cablevision Systems Corp., owner of IFC parent Rainbow Media Holdings, is the first MSO to pick up the content for use on its Optimum Online service.

New episodes of Dinner for Five premiered in September. The 13 half-hour TV shows are edited from the two to four hours of footage shot during the discussions. Material that doesn't make the TV version is edited and made available for broadband.

"We're delivering it in full frame, with the look and feel of their cable-modem service," said Cynthia Burnell, senior vice president and general manager of IFC's Digital Media Group.

Currently, there are four- to eight-minute segments available from six different episodes for Optimum Online subscribers. IFC delivers that content, as well as banner ads to promote the show, to Cablevision a few weeks in advance, so the MSO can post the content at the same time the episode premieres on TV.

Banner ads for the Dinner for Five broadband content run on the IFC Web site, as well as Optimum Online's home page.

"IFC's initiative to develop unique broadband content for Optimum Online's OptOnline.net portal is a testament to how high-speed Internet access is changing the way people use their computers," Cablevision senior vice president of high-speed data products Gemma Toner said in a statement.

Burnell said IFC plans to test the service and see what consumers like, but said "we want to move into a larger broadband program." For instance, there is plenty of extended material from Dinner for Five that could be placed on the Web for consumers who might want to soak up every minute of the conversation.

IFC was way out in front in placing broadband content on the Internet in the middle to late 1990s, but gradually pulled back. Early in the new decade, operators had little need for content to sell high-speed service.

Now, operators are telling IFC "there is a need for broadband content" to help differentiate cable modem service in a highly competitive environment, Burnell said.

Dinner for Five was created by actor and director Favreau (Swingers). MSOs can view the Dinner for Five broadband portal at www.ifctv.com.

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