Now Playing, Online: Indie-Film News

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News flash: IFC has entered the news business. Sort of. The Independent Film Channel has launched an on-air informational interstitial and a news section to its Web site (www.ifctv.com).

The cross-platform segments are more brand-building blocks for IFC, which has raised its profile through an extensive marketing effort — components include on-air spots, plus trivia contests on radio stations and in the lobbies of Loews Cineplex Entertainment theaters — behind the July 9 bow of the eight-part competition series Ultimate Film Fanatic, as well as sister company IFC Films’s distribution of Michael Moore’s controversial hit Fahrenheit 9/11.

Network officials also hope the news segments can generate revenues for the service and distributors.

MOORE TIES

Bowing on June 21, IFC News Minute, the one-minute on-air segments — interspersed throughout the commercial-free service’s schedule — have featured independent film pundit and Ultimate Film Fanatic host Chris Gore talking about the controversies surrounding Moore’s film, which broke documentary box-office records on its first weekend in release.

The News section, which can be found on the opening page of the Web site, got started on July 7.

IFC vice president of content and packaging Todd Tarpley said it will contain five to seven new items each weekday — articles written by staffers and outside contributors.

The stories will examine developments within the independent film community, focusing on features, directors, actors and film festivals.

“IFC is an important part of the independent film world and we want to provide people with more timely information about what’s going on,” Tarpley said. “These compelling stories will expand the scope of our mission and brand.”

Tarpley said the News section would initially be text-driven, but down the road, he expects it to feature movie trailers and video segments showcasing IFC talent from various film festivals and other locations.

Offering a rich-media mix is spot-on in the eyes of IFC senior vice president of marketing Evan Shapiro, who notes that the channel’s viewers spend a lot of time toggling between their computers and TV sets.

“With updated daily information, more people are going to visit our site, and we know the more traffic we draw there, the more people will come and watch the network,” said Shapiro.

IFC also believes the on-air and online news segments will draw sponsor support. Shapiro envisions cable operators running promo/interstitials something along the lines of: “This IFC News Minute can only be seen on IFC on [operator name] digital cable, brought to you locally by [sponsor name].”

He also suggested local calendar offerings of independent film activity as another revenue-generating option

“We believe that in addition to helping operators drive digital penetration that we can aid their local ad sales efforts,” he said, adding that IFC anticipates studios and theater chains will be among the advertisers interested in sponsoring online segments.

'RANT’ RUNS OUT

Looking ahead, Shapiro said IFC will hopes to post weekly on-air News segment by year’s end.

One brand-building effort by IFC Cos. has come to an end: the May/June issue of IFC Rant magazine, a co-venture with online producer indieWIRE, was its last.

The four-year-old bimonthly title had a distribution base of about 150,000 per issue. Subscriptions are being fulfilled by Premiere magazine.

IFC continues to disseminate an e-newsletter, IFC the Guide, to about 200,000 users.

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