After months of speculation concerning the fate of a potential channel partnership between A+E Networks and Vice Media in the U.S., both parties have confirmed the joint venture that will see Vice program and produce content for a 24-hour channel with the working title of Viceland.
The new channel will launch early next year – perhaps as early as February – in 70 million homes through various cable and satellite operators. It will feature hundreds of hours of content produced completely in-house by the Vice Media team.
A+E will oversee technical operations and distribution of the channel, and will work with Vice Media on the ad sales and sponsorship front. Creatively, the channel will be overseen by Vice Media CEO Shane Smith and his team, including film director and Vice Media creative director Spike Jonze, who will also serve as CD of the new channel.
As reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal, A+E, through an additional US$200 million investment from parent company Disney, will up its stake in Vice Media by another 7%, building on the 10% stake it secured in 2014.
Programming on the channel, in the works for several months, was featured in a Vice upfront in May and includes such series as Gaycation with Ellen Page, Weediquette, Huang’s World with Eddie Huang and Noisey.
In a statement, A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc said that Vice carries “a bold voice and a distinctive model in the marketplace,” adding: “This channel represents a strategic fit and a new direction for the future of our portfolio of media assets.
“Shane Smith has led Vice from a fledgling magazine into a global media brand and all of us at A+E are excited to work with him and his passionate and innovative team.”
“This network is the next step in the evolution of our brand and the first step in our global roll-out of networks around the world,” said Smith via the official statement. “First: It allows us to be truly platform agnostic and enable our audience to view our content wherever they want. Second: It represents a continued growth in our content quality and raises the ceiling even higher for our brilliant teams to attack stories from long-form features to multi-episode series and even short form interstitials that will challenge the accepted norms of current TV viewing. Third: We will test new and innovative monetization strategies placing Viceland at the pointy tip of the spear of the rapidly changing terrain of TV advertising.
“All in all, this new network allows us to continue our innovation in storytelling and content creation and take it to the next level,” he concluded. “We couldn’t be happier working with Nancy and her team at A+E and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this opportunity to our Vice family of partners, producers, shooters, editors, and staff, to go out and make our indelible imprint on the cultural fabric of this modern age.”
“Our mission with the channel is not that different from what our mission is as a company: it’s us trying to understand the world we live in by producing pieces about things we’re curious about, or confused about, or that we think are funny,” said Jonze of the content to feature on Viceland. “And if it doesn’t have a strong point of view then it shouldn’t be on this channel.”
While Vice is effectively taking over H2 in the U.S., the History off-shoot will still be carried internationally. It is currently viewed in 68 territories. The release issued by A+E stated that the company is “committed to H2′s international expansion as well as the production of informational-based historical content.”
This will be the second rebrand of an A+E network since Dubuc took the reins at A+E as president and CEO, following the successful rebrand of Bio to FYI.
The A+E partnership is the latest in a string of channel deals struck by Brookyln-based Vice, which also include tie-ups with Rogers Communications in Canada, and a local outlet in Greece via Greek broadcaster Antenna. Recently, Smith told The Guardian of plans to launch a dozen networks in Europe over the next 12 to 19 months.
While speaking in a keynote conversation at Realscreen London, Vice Media’s global head of content Alex Miller declined to comment on the A+E pact, but said plans were afoot to expand Vice’s linear offerings across its territories, provided that potential partners were relevant to the brand’s audience.