Viceland Launches in Style—Its Own Style

We’ve got a story in the new issue on the launch of Viceland, which happens Monday as the Brooklyn boys of Vice take over the H2 channel with a variety of offbeat unscripted shows. Those include the Ellen Page-hosted travelogue Gaycation, the music show Noisey, the seemingly self-explanatory Weediquette and the immersive investigative show Balls Deep.

What it doesn’t include is Vice News, which runs on HBO.

Viceland is going to market without acquired shows and movies, selling fresh concepts and personalities to the viewing public. True to Vice’s DIY spirit, all but one are created in-house. Some are extensions of popular web series, where Vice has built up its considerable value.

The connective tissue is hosts and filmmakers with a unique perspective. “It’s a home for people who have something to say,” says Guy Slattery, Viceland general manager. “People with a curiosity about the world.”

Of course, what you can show and say on ad supported cable is different from what you can show and say online. Slattery says the rehashed series will stay true to their online spirits, with a few tweaks. “During certain dayparts, we’ll conform to broadcast standards,” he says. “We may have to be careful with things like language.”

True to character, Vice went about its marketing in a unique way. A full page New York Times ad done up in neon green offered, simply, a phone number and the Viceland name. The message changed; at one point, callers were asked what kept them up at night. (Viceland isn’t the only cable channel using the Times to get its word out; the channel AHC has an ad in Monday’s paper, instructing former H2 viewers to check out AHC’s “Heroes Make History” brand.)

Viceland flash drives sent to reporters were enclosed in prescription pill bottles—interpret that how you like.

Vice does things its own way. The series have varying run times and number of episodes. As Spike Jonze, Vice creative director, put it at TCA in January, “We’re kind of making everything based on what feels right and what’s needed to tell the stories.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is content director at B+C and Multichannel News. He joined B+C in 2005 and has covered network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television, including writing the "Local News Close-Up" market profiles. He also hosted the podcasts "Busted Pilot" and "Series Business." His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Boston Globe and New York magazine.