Sundance To Offer Content Sponsorships

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New York— Sundance Channel, through a new branded entertainment strategy, wants to add on-air, multiplatform sponsorships to its independent programming lineup next year.

The new sponsorship model will allow Sundance to create content-based marketing platforms, rather than offering traditional ad spots.

Sundance joins competitor Independent Film Channel, which last August created a specialized in-house department, in the hunt for sponsorship dollars and client partnerships.

To facilitate this strategy, Kirk Iwanowski, who had been senior vice president of marketing, will oversee all integrated sponsorship sales and branded entertainment initiatives across Sundance on-air, online, video on demand and wireless properties, as executive vice president of marketing, branded entertainment and sponsorship.

Iwanowski said Sundance, which announced its gambit at a June 21 press luncheon here, had yet to reach any such pacts.

Messages would be integrated into Sundance’s created or acquired series, interstitial shorts and branded weekly destinations. The integrated content would not interrupt feature films and documentaries, and would likely run before original series and documentaries.

“The Sundance Channel offering is quite unique — these are high levels of integration and customization that closely align the given brand with both Sundance Channel overall and the specific content or franchise,” Iwanowski said.

On the original programming front, the network announced several new series and documentaries. Debuting later this year is One Punk Under God, a six-part documentary series focusing on alternative Christian minister Jay Bakker. The series will join a previously announced The Hill, and House of Boateng.

In 2007, the network will debut Sin City Law, which follows the Las Vegas-based rivalry between a pro-death penalty district attorney and an ex-prosecutor turned public defender, and six-part Pleasure For Sale, examining the political and economic ramifications of a legal brothel located in Pathump, Nevada.

Lynne Kirby, Sundance Channel senior vice president of original programming and development, said original content now represents some 10% to 15% of the network’s overall schedule.

“With our original content we’re looking to serve our viewers while broadening our independent nature, she said.