A+E and Vice Media announced plans to rebrand A+E’s H2 cable channel, using Viceland as the working title for the network.
The channel is scheduled to launch in early 2016 and will be distributed in about 70 million homes.
The companies said it will feature hundreds of hours of completely new programming developed and produced in-house by Vice, the digitally focused media company.
The network will be overseen by Oscar-winning writer and director Spike Jonze, a partner and creative director at Vice.
A+E paid $250 million for a 10% stake in Vice last year. Plans to rename H2 were held up to get distributors to sign off on the change. DirecTV was the last operator to agree and clear the way. Vice is getting a minority interest in the channel. In exchange for that stake, A+E’s interest in Vice rises to 20%.
Several media companies have expressed interest in working with Vice, which has a show on Time Warner’s HBO.
The deal expands A+E’s network portfolio, adding content designed to appeal to younger consumers. It gives Vice a foothold in the TV world, which while not as sexy as digital generates big profits.
“Vice has a bold voice and a distinctive model in the marketplace. This channel represents a strategic fit and a new direction for the future of our portfolio of media assets,” said Nancy Dubuc, CEO of A+E. “Shane Smith has led Vice from a fledgling magazine into a global media brand and all of us at A+E are excited to work with him and his passionate and innovative team.”
Shane Smith, cofounder and CEO of Vice said the network is the next step in the evolution of the Vice brand and the first step in a global rollout of networks. “ First: It allows us to be truly platform agnostic and enable our audience to view our content wherever they want,” Smith said. “Second: It represents a continued growth in our content quality and raises the ceiling even higher for our brilliant teams to attack stories from long form features to multi-episode series and even short form interstitials that will challenge the accepted norms of current TV viewing. Third: We will test new and innovative monetization strategies placing Viceland at the pointy tip of the spear of the rapidly changing terrain of TV advertising.”
Viceland will launch with a full slate of primetime shows, including Gaycation (with Ellen Page and Ian Daniel), Huang’s World (with Eddie Huang), Noisey (with Zach Goldbaum), Vice World Of Sports (with Sal Masekela), Black Market (with Michael K. Williams), Flophouse, Party Legends, Weediquette (with Krishna Andavolu), and many, many more.
“It feels like most channels are just a collection of shows,” said Jonze. “We wanted Viceland to be different, to feel like everything on there has a reason to exist and a strong point of view. Our mission with the channel is not that different from what our mission is as a company: it’s us trying to understand the world we live in by producing pieces about things we’re curious about, or confused about, or that we think are funny. And if it doesn't have a strong point of view then it shouldn't be on this channel.”
A+E will handle technical operations and distribution for the network. The two companies will work together on advertising sales and sponsorships. Vice will handle marketing across all platforms.
A+E is a joint venture of The Walt Disney Co. and Hearst. Disney is expected to make a separate $200 million investment in Vice.
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