AT & T pumping up IFC

MSO uses analog sister net Bravo to cross-promote and push digital

The Independent Film Channel got the kind of break that its moviemakers often dream about. The largest cable distributor in the world is going to hawk its wares.

AT & T Broadband is using IFC to push digital buys through localized promos on IFC's analog sister network, Bravo.

The arrangement was born not so much out of IFC's content as its proximity to Bravo. "We were certainly targeting cable networks that carry product strongly on analog as well as digital," said Karin Rutstein, director of video marketing for AT & T. "Mainly, it was just finding a network that was technically capable of doing what we wanted to do and willing to do this with us."

The promos involve Bravo's giving up two of its own national spots during "IFC Fridays" and inserting customized AT & T spots urging viewers to upgrade to digital to get IFC full-time.

The collaboration is being tested first in the Denver market, where AT & T has around 470,000 subscribers. If all goes well there, the scheme will be expanded to other markets and possibly extended to other Rainbow Media cable networks.

Bravo and IFC happened to meet AT & T's needs going in. Bravo's ad-insertion equipment is relatively new and, therefore, allows the custom insertions, whereas older equipment would not, Rutstein said. Bravo's demo is also ideal to push digital in that it's made up of well-educated and reasonably affluent households.

Movies in general have been used by cable operators to lure customers to upgrade to digital, but never a specific channel. AT & T has designated a separate call center to track those calls generated by the IFC promo. It's too early to quantify results, Rutstein said, adding that the phones are indeed ringing.