IFC Films Unlimited, the streaming channel from indie stalwart IFC Films, has seen a staggering 300% growth in subscribers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Variety has learned.
As the home to over 1,000 titles from the distributor, including Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s “Frances Ha” and “The Babadook,” the streaming hub has exploded with users thanks to increased presence across numerous digital platforms, not to mention a U.S. population that’s been largely locked indoors and starved for entertainment.
“The future got here sooner than we expected when we started and developed IFC Films Unlimited,” said Lisa Schwartz, co-president of IFC Films. “It’s gratifying to see our strategy work, and a testament to the quality of our films.”
Beyond the coronavirus, a key factor in the uptick has been the service’s addition to the Apple TV and Roku services, and a major boost from its addition to Canada’s Amazon Prime Video lineup, where only about 16 other U.S.-based content makers are competing for friendly Canadian eyeballs. In America, Schwartz said, “we’re competing with hundreds.” A hard subscriber count was not available.
IFC has also deployed a savvy social media initiative which directs viewers of new releases to library titles featuring the same filmmakers and stars. Upon the recent streaming premiere of the film “The Truth,” starring Ethan Hawke, Juliette Binoche, and Catherine Deneuve, followers of IFC’s social accounts were directed to nearly a dozen other projects starring the trio available to view as a supplement.
It’s a retention plan that Schwartz called “circular” for viewers, 44% of whom prefer films with ensemble casts. Genre fare from IFC’s label IFC Midnight attracts 42% percent of subscribers, like the recent release of Dave Franco’s “The Rental,” and the remaining 14% are after IFC’s prestige films that have gone to compete for Oscars, like Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.”
Schwartz said the streaming audience composition aligns closely to theatrical audiences for IFC’s annual slate. Moving forward, all IFC titles will end release lifecycles on Unlimited, after the PVOD window and, in the U.S., first-run TV deals with Showtime and Hulu.
IFC Unlimited was launched in 2019 during the Cannes Film Festival, and costs $5.99.