Vice Media and ESPN strike content deal

The sports network will tap the millennial favorite for its unique storytelling style, while Viceland will air select '30 for 30' docs. (Pictured: Vice Media's Shane Smith)
May 4, 2016

ESPN will be getting a content boost via one of the millennial generation’s favorite media companies.

Vice Sports will now produce original content that will be distributed across ESPN’s linear, digital and mobile properties as well as Vice’s properties. In exchange, select films from ESPN’s back catalog of its ’30 for 30′ documentary strand will air on Vice’s linear channel, Viceland (which airs in the U.S. and Canada and is soon to expand to various countries across Europe).

Together, Vice Sports and ESPN Films will create a number of original, short-form series to run across both companies’ properties. John Skipper, president of ESPN, said in a statement that Vice’s non-mainstream approach to storytelling is what led to the partnership.

ESPN is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, which also has invested approximately US$400 million in Vice according to reports.

“Shane (Smith) and the team at Vice do an extraordinary job presenting stories through their own, unique lens — and working with them will help to bring a new perspective to our storytelling,” he said.

While the number of shows has not yet been specified, a joint press release by Vice and ESPN promises that the programs will take a close look at various athletes and championships that reside “outside the mainstream,” and will take an international approach to content. Additionally, the two companies are developing a short-form animated series.

ESPN will also repackage content from Viceland’s weekly show Vice World of Sports for distribution across its digital channels after each episode premieres on Viceland, and will air select series from Vice Sports including The Clubhouse on its linear and digital channels.

“Growing up watching ESPN I came to love the brand and their content. Maybe a little too much. The amount of manly tears shed over various ’30 for 30s’ throughout the years has been nothing short of embarrassing,” said Smith, pictured, in a statement.

(From Stream Daily, with files from Barry Walsh)

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor-in-chief and content director for Realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to Realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.