Vice Wants to Bring You the News, Hopes You Will Eventually Pay for It

/ Apr 15, 2013


Last fall, Vice Media announced plans for a new 24-hour global online news network, which the company hoped to debut by early this year. Speaking from the stage at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, Vice Media CEO Shane Smith previewed “Vice News,” which, true to the company’s style of documentary filmmaking, would embed reporters and producers in the field to cover the news. The promo video called it the “future of news,” and Smith echoed that sentiment by lambasting traditional media outlets for turning the news gathering and reporting process into a pretty bland affair.

Well, early 2013 has come and gone, and while Vice Media has been in the news, Vice News, or whatever the 24-hour news outfit will eventually be called, is nowhere to be seen — yet.

The plan is to now launch the global news network in the third or fourth quarter of this year, according to Vice’s president, Andrew Creighton, who recently spoke with Beet.TV about the network, calling it the “biggest commitment” the company has ever made.

Andy Plesser- VICE

In the video interview, Creighton echoes some of the things Smith said in Abu Dhabi last fall. Particularly, that Vice will seriously invest in its brand of “impressionist” news-reporting.

To Creighton, this differentiates the service from the traditional outlets.

“If you have the news commoditized from hundreds of different sources, you don’t have a real feeling of what’s inside the story,” he says. “Our way of doing things, of going to the place and embedding ourselves into the narrative, seems to resonate with this audience, who wants that transparency.”

So Vice is going to “mobilize” its global network of freelancers and contributors, with the hopes of launching a “fully-fledged” news channel, with bureaus in all major cities in the world. The goal is to produce 2,000-3,000 hours of content every year, says Creighton.

In the video, Creighton also acknowledges the business issues present in the type of content Vice wants to produce. Brands don’t necessarily want to sponsor or run their ads against videos of, say, severed heads, he says. Vice’s ultimate goal, though, is to make the “pure news stuff” available via subscriptions.

Additionally, while the news will work to attract eyeballs, it’ll also be used to push viewers to other content verticals on Vice, including sports, entertainment and lifestyle, all of which are “more brand friendly,” according to Creighton.

The question, as always: is this enough to build and retain an audience? Maybe.

We’re not sure how many of the type of viewers that Vice is hoping to attract actually get their news from CNN, MSNBC or Fox News (insert your own “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” joke here).

Online, Vice News’ competitors will probably be WSJ Live or HuffPost Live, or video producers like Newsy or NowThis News. Newsy has a deal with Mashable to produce content for the site.

NowThis News has a similar deal with The Atlantic; was founded by HuffPo founder Kenneth Lerer, former HuffPo CEO Eric Hippeau, and Bedrocket founder and CEO Brian Bedol; is developing a mobile/social video news network of its own; and is currently employing Vice’s former head of production Steven Belser in a similar role.

While Vice is unlikely to shake the TV news ecosystem to its score (though it’ll be fun to see what it does with its HBO show), it’ll be far more interesting to see how it wedges itself into the battle for online video news supremacy — and whether creating provocative, in-your-face news reports is enough to make people keep coming back, and eventually pay for it.


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