Viceland's Ad Cap Could Appeal to Millennials

When Viceland debuts on February 29, its commercial model will include a cap of eight minutes per hour and an offer of content marketing "takeover" pods for a single advertiser. The new network produced by Vice Media, the fast-growing, multiplatform reality programmer, will replace the channel now used by A+E Networks' H2, which reaches 70 million households.

Viceland's advertising approach reflects other experimental commercial moves by programmers including Turner, Viacom and others to reinvent the cable advertising structure, including reliance on programmatic buying.

In the case of the Viceland cable network, Vice Media is selling hybrid ad packages that include commercial time on the TV network as well as messages on its other platforms. A+E is involved with some unspecified advertising plans for the channel, according to published reports. Neither Vice Media nor A+E responded to requests for comments about their ad plans.

Viceland's ad structure is intended to minimize commercial clutter and build stronger sponsorship connections to the content, according to media buyers interviewed by AdAge, which first ran the story. The media buyers indicated tad pricing would be at "premium" (high) rates, although none of the companies involved has revealed commercial pricing plans.

Along with reduced clutter, some shows may run without spot commercials, with marketers able to buy ad pods for content marketing or other sponsorships, sources said. Marketers may be able to use Vice Media's content study and its talent to create content, presumably reflecting the nitty-gritty style of its programming and focused on lengthier-than-usual messages.

Media buyers familiar with the agenda said that Viceland's commercial rate is more expensive than some of the top 10 cable networks, especially since its initial viewership estimates are relatively small (an estimated 0.1 rating, according to published reports). Yet, Vice is emphasizing that its programming will attract the important millennial-aged market. During its first few years of operation, Vice Media has been able to reach desirable young audiences, which the company intends to pursue via its new linear channel.

Vice has said that at launch, it will offer eight original primetime series and that most of its content will be produced in-house, although it will run some films.

Gary Arlen

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.