IFC Takes VOD High-Def

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Rainbow Media Holdings-owned IFC In Theaters will launch a companion high-definition on-demand service later this month that will offer VOD HD independent films scheduled day-and-date with the film's theatrical release.

The HD service will launch June 17 on Cablevision Systems' iO digital cable service and Comcast On Demand, although neither operator would say how many HD-enabled subscribers the service will be in front of.

Comcast will charge consumers $7.99 for each IFC In Theaters HD movie, $1 more than the price for IFC Theaters' standard-definition titles. Cablevision, Rainbow's parent company, will charge $6.95 for both standard and HD titles, according to IFC.

IFC Entertainment's executive vice president of distribution Lisa Schwartz, said the network is also talking to other MSOs to distribute the new HD service. She added the new service provides viewers quality HD movie fare and operators a value-added proposition for its customers.

"Typically the independent viewer is the one that has the highest priority in terms of the viewing experience - they tend to be early adopters of high-definition televisions - so the time seemed right to launch the service," she said. "Having another portal of entry for our films along with the fact that [operators] have given us a separate branded space for the service will give our films exposure to those who have a predisposition for seeking HD titles that they may not have had [in the standard format]."

The HD channel launches in advance of the debut of several high-profile independent films on the service this summer, including the July debuts of I Hate Valentine's Day (which reunites My Big Fat Greek Wedding actors Nia Vardalos and John Corbett) and In The Loop, featuring The Sopranos' James Gandolfini.

"We're going to release four new day-and-date HD titles monthly and at any given time you can select as many as eight to 10 a month," Schwartz said.

The network is coming off its best performing month in May.

"It has become a real viable way to watch independent films," she said. "Every town doesn't have an art house, but certainly every home has a remote control and we're seeing the positive effects of that."