DCNF: Vice’s HBO Show Gets a Third Season, Tees Up Sports Vertical for June

/ May 2, 2014

Vice News Canada

Vice’s next content vertical is going to be sports.

Shane Smith’s youth-skewing digital media empire will launch Vice Sports in June, the company announced today during its first-ever Newfront presentation. The channel will follow the recent debuts of Munchies and Vice News.

“Vice Sports will be a channel devoted to bringing athletes and fans closer together,” said Vice chief creative officer Eddy Moretti. Keeping with the Vice tradition, Vice Sports will also focus on what’s being under-reported by everyone else.

For instance, one of the shows that will be available on the channel at launch is “Vice World of Sports,” which will examine the culture of sports around the world. Hosted by Brian Duffy, the show will tackle topics such as the world cup of unsanctioned nations, mental health issues in the NFL, and Thai prison-fighting, while exploring how sports can often influence and intersect with news, politics, and economics.

In addition to Vice Sports and “Vice World of Sports,” the company talked a little bit about Munchies, which it launched in partnership with FremantleMedia, and Vice News, which went live a couple months ago.

Vice News, in particular, will be featured in the second round of YouTube’s national marketing campaign for top creators and channels on its platform. The channel, which has more than 350,000 subscribers, is a Google Preferred member in the news category. YouTube’s campaign will plaster the Vice News brand across TV, digital, print, and out-of-home.

In terms of programming, Vice showcased three other projects it’s planning to launch in the coming year.

“Toxic,” for Vice News, will explore the different ways humans have crapped on the environment by embedding a documentary team to the places where the damage is worst.

“Motherboard Roundtable,” for Vice’s science and technology channel, Motherboard, will bring a group of intelligent people together to talk about the future of “everything.”

The final one is an untitled music project for Noisey, Vice’s music channel.

Overall, Vice says it has over 70 show franchises available across its network of channels, including Vice News, Munchies, Noisey, Thump, Motherboard, Fightland, and i-D. The above four shows are also only a “small fraction” of the “dozens of formats” Vice plans to debut in 2014, the company said.

“These are the stories we tell, the ones that our audience cares about the most,” said Moretti. “We want you, the advertisers, to come and tell the stories with us.”

Vice’s pitch to advertisers: One, they can simply partner on the “show level,” where Vice would create a “custom media experience” tagged to the show the advertiser wants; a second option is full sponsorships of channels, which Vice is currently doing with Anheuser-Busch InBev for the EDM channel Thump; and the last is the creation of a branded video channel. Here, Moretti pointed to the success of arts-focused The Creator’s Project, which was built in partnership with Intel.

“These brand partnerships work, they deliver against business and brand goals,” said Moretti. “We would not be here if they didn’t. If you wanted to connect with an entire generation of young people, Vice is your best partner.”

Then came Vice CEO Shane Smith, who took the opportunity to not only talk about the company’s TV show for HBO, but to break the embargo and announce that it has been picked up for a third season by the premium pay-TV channel.

“We didn’t need television to validate our existence, but it has,” said Smith. Vice’s “mission,” he said, is to create a “living, breathing documentary of our times,” regardless of the platform. “We don’t care, quite frankly, if it’s online, or mobile, or if it’s TV, movies, or holograms, all we care about is good content.”

“If I have one message that I’m going to leave you with,” he continued (this should be familiar to anyone who’s heard Smith talk to a crowd), “it’s mobile, online, TV, film — we’re coming.”

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