IFC Wants Friday Niche

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Hoping to create a weekly destination for film buffs, the Independent Film Channel will launch several new original series as part of a new Friday-night block of programming.

The block, slated to bow April 9, will be backed by a major consumer promotional campaign that executives hope will help boost the network’s overall profile.

The “IFC Fridays” lineup will consist of an hour of original programming beginning at 10 p.m., sandwiched between two independent film blocks, according to programming director Michael Ruggiero.

Signature series Dinner for Five will lead the block, while the second half-hour will consist of one of four original series slated to bow this year.

First to premiere is Rocked With Gina Gershon, a six-part reality series surrounding the actress’s rock music tour. Also on the slate: Film School, a reality show profiling the lives of several New York University students; and Ultimate Film Fanatic, a competition-based series testing the Hollywood knowledge of film-obsessed fans.

IFC will air more popular and recognizable independent films at 8 p.m., Ruggiero added, while moving late-night drama/thriller film franchise “Pulp Indies” to 11 p.m.

Senior vice president of marketing Evan Shapiro said the 30 million subscriber network is hoping its new Friday programming block will appeal to its target audience of upscale men 25 to 45, who either have few viewing options or haven’t decided what to watch.

IFC will support the block with a “seven-figure” consumer marketing campaign, Shapiro said. The campaign will feature such traditional tactics as broadcast spot buys on such fringe favorites as Seinfeld and late-night fare like Late Show With David Letterman and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Billboard ads will run in New York and Los Angeles, and radio buys have been secured on such programming as The Howard Stern Show.

IFC will also employ several guerilla marketing tactics, including the distribution of scratch-and-win tune-in cards that allow recipients to win an order-in “Dinner on IFC.” The network will also conduct a live performance art marketing promotion/contest, as well as street-level contests in which pedestrians can win prizes by guessing “who’s at dinner” from an audio feed of a Dinner for Five episode.

Along with the new series, the network will also premiere several new specials, including In Search of Ted Demme, in which famed actors and actresses pay tribute to the late director; and Slasher, a documentary a three-day period follows the life a self-proclaimed “greatest living used car salesman.”

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