Viceland went live today with a promise to woo 18- to 34-year-olds to the fold. VICE Media is the latest digital media company to launch its own cable TV channel—in a joint venture with A+E Networks—and brands are lining up.
As its media kit unabashedly states, VICE is the #1, fastest-growing youth media company in the world. Unilever, Bank of America, Diageo, Shinola, Bushmills, MailChimp, Samsung, T-Mobile and Toyota are on board as charter advertisers as Viceland states it will offer just half of the 18 minutes of ads most US cable networks typically run in an hour, making its ad avails even more premium.
The aim is to rewrite the rules of TV programming and advertising, making half its ad inventory native ads (branded/sponsored content) within a year, much of it produced by VICE itself and bearing its brash blend of in-your-face provocative cultural and political commentary, fed by a network of 30 bureaus around the world and a growing media empire.
“We are trying to displace the clutter by injecting some humanity and authenticity,” said Eddy Moretti, co-president of Viceland and VICE’s chief creative officer, to The Wall Street Journal. “If we create a user experience that is more engaging than what else is on the dial, people won’t flip.”
Those ads will be running across Viceland’s edgy prime-time lineup, which includes returning shows Weediquette, about the politics of marijuana, and Noisey, an extension of its digital vertical about music. Noisey has close to 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube and its first new episode for Viceland kicks off in Compton, California, with rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Director Spike Jonze is VICE creative director while its hard-hitting docu-style programming lineup includes Gaycation (a travel show hosted by Canadian actress Ellen Page) and F*ck, That’s Delicious (a food show that features rapper Action Bronson). Both are produced by VICE Labs, an in-house 30-person creative team.
HBO asked VICE to make a weekly news show four seasons ago, which brought Disney and Fox to the table as Vice’s valuation grew to a reported $4 billion by the end of 2015.
“Having that anchor in the HBO show allowed them to grow their valuation, grow awareness and be taken as a serious player,” said Jonathan Perelman, ICM’s head of digital ventures and a former executive at BuzzFeed, to Bloomberg.
Vice CEO and co-founder Shane Smith is bullish on his media empire’s ability to woo millennials back to TV and his reach for the “75% of the world’s advertising budget” still spent on TV, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Why don’t I get that 75% while all these other guys who don’t know what the f–k they’re doing are getting it?”
A+E is gambling big on Viceland as it transitions the 70 million homes reached by the former H2 network slot it replaces. “We saw an opening, and for us it’s about brands that will survive regardless of the platform,” said Nancy Dubuc, A+E Networks CEO, to Business Insider. “And Vice is the Holy Grail.”
Viceland bills itself as a 24-hour cable network with its own take on non-fiction programming. It’s taken Smith nine years to position VICE at the top of the heap—after Viacom gave him the money to create an online TV network—and he comes to 24/7 non-linear TV with an impressive track network with its award-winning HBO series.
Consider Viceland is a gleeful pied piper, wooing youthful defectors back to television after wooing them from TV to digital, from Snapchat and Netflix over to the TV home for all things Vice. And if anyone can do it, it’s Shane Smith & Co.