Rainbow Media Networks is adding live webcam video to its networks’ coverage of Film Independent’s Spirit Awards.
For the second year, IFC and two other Rainbow Media Networks will band together to broadcast the Spirit Awards, which will be held Feb. 24. IFC will air the ceremony live at 5 p.m. ET. Prior to the ceremony, sibling network WE TV will present a half-hour red-carpet show at 4:30 p.m. At 10 p.m., Rainbow’s AMC will air an edited rebroadcast of the ceremony.
IFC’s Web site this year will for the first time feature webcams that will allow viewers to see what’s happening in the greenroom, backstage and at the IFC after-party.
“It’s better than being there because you have access that you wouldn’t get if you were in the audience,” said Ed Carroll, president of Rainbow Entertainment Services. Acura, DirecTV and L’Oreal Paris, which sponsored last year’s trio of telecasts, are returning this go-round. M&Ms has joined this year as a sponsor. “We sell this as part of our upfront, and the Spirit Awards package is one of the most desirable,” Mr. Carroll said. With three networks running programming, sponsors get the benefit of a bigger aggregate audience, he said.
The sponsors also get ads on the IFC, AMC and WE Web sites. IFC’s broadband Media Lab for short films is also running a short film contest. Four finalists will be selected by the channel and viewers will be able to vote online for the winner, which will be introduced and shown on stage during the awards broadcast in front of all those producers, directors, and studio and network executives. The theme of the films for the contest is “What does independence mean to you?”
WE’s site is presenting an interactive feature with Melonie Diaz, a first-time nominee for best supporting female for her performance in “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.” An online poll will decide what she wears to the awards.
Last year, when the taped portion of the awards moved to AMC from former Rainbow property Bravo, now an NBC Universal network, ratings rose 36 percent. It was the second best ratings for the Spirits since they began airing in 2000. Last year was the first time WE was involved. IFC does not subscribe to Nielsen.
Rainbow has had the Sprit Awards since 1997 and holds the rights through 2009.
Mr. Carroll said Rainbow also expects to distribute coverage of the Spirits to about 100 countries, double the number that carried it last year.