For more than a decade, the Sundance Channel has been the official television outlet for the Sundance Film Festival. But the pay cable network only has about 27 million subscribers, so the coverage hasn't been available to most Americans.
This year, however, the Sundance Channel has launched its "most aggressive year for all of our online, digital activities," said Laura Michalchyshyn, the channel's executive vice president and general manager of programming and creative affairs. "Everything that's on-air is online" (at www.sundancechannel.com).
"We're streaming all of our content on our Web site. Plus we're syndicating our stuff out so that we have a page on YouTube. We're syndicating it out to Yahoo. The goal I have in creating a multiplatform campaign with my colleagues is that whether you're watching on the network or whether you're watching online we are the place to get updated information about what's going on. Behind-the-scenes information."
"Festival Updates" air before and after programming on the Sundance Channel through Sunday, including a live telecast daily at 7 p.m. MST. Five new segments are produced each day and are also be available online.
The updates include interviews with actors and filmmakers, profiles of filmmakers and "My Premiere" segments that follow filmmakers to the premieres of their movies.
"We get special access to filmmakers," Michalchyshyn said. "We shoot a lot of filmmakers, actors, writers, in their element because we have that access.
"The hope is to make people who are not fortunate enough to be at Sundance Film Festival feel like they're part of it at home."
It's a "hectic" but "exhilarating" time for Sundance Channel staffers. They've rented space at the Gateway Center on Main Street in Park City as well as renting out Cicero's restaurant for the duration of the festival. That's where Faith Salie, the comedian who hosts the public radio program, "Fair Game," conducts interviews for the updates.
The online presence also includes daily blogs, short films from past festivals and a widget that features video, news and blog posts and will be embeddable in personal blogs, Web sites and social networking profiles.
There's also video-on-demand on various cable systems, including Comcast here in Utah, that features 10 Sundance Film Festival titles not available elsewhere, along with introductions by festival director Geoff Gilmore.
That's in addition to the channel's ongoing "31 Days of Sundance" a January schedule that includes all sorts of films, documentaries and shorts from past Sundance Film Festivals."We're just hoping to bring the Sundance Film Festival to everyone's home," said Michalchyshyn, who wouldn't mind if the online coverage prompted more people to subscribe to the Sundance Channel. "Because we're not in every home, we think that going online at sundancechannel.com is a great way to go."