Cablevision Rejiggers Sundance Channel
Sundance is in some 30 million homes, but a certain percentage of subscribers pay extra to receive it. "We'll be moving off that model to our IFC-type model," Cablevision CEO James Dolan said, referring to another of the company's networks.
Sundance does have some digital basic availability, including on Time Warner Cable in New York. But Cablevision wants more, as well as an added presence on satellite. The company is essentially looking to an ad-supported model: boost distribution and hope advertisers spend more in kind.
That's somewhat of a misnomer, however, since Sundance is actually ad-free. Since early 2007, it has sold sponsorships and branded entertainment opportunities, so greater distribution could allow it to take greater advantage of those revenue areas. In May, it held its first upfront event.
Cablevision acquired the network in May and operates it in tandem with its IFC network, within its Rainbow Media unit. IFC--in some 48 million homes--only has distribution on digital basic, and also derives revenues from sponsorships.
"We think there's a great deal of growth left in that combined entity (Sundance and IFC) to exploit, both from [the] distribution side, the new-media opportunities, as well as advertising," Dolan said last week at an investor event.
Cablevision declined to elaborate on Dolan's remarks. The company bought the 12-year-old Sundance for $500 million from partners CBS and NBC Universal in May. Sundance programming has a heavy focus on documentaries, in addition to music and other original series. IFC has original series and independent films.
Dolan added that the two channels give Rainbow a bigger foothold in the independent film space, allowing the company to launch some new VOD offerings.