Most of the big media news these days is about the unbundling of cable television into pieces you can pay to access with just an internet connection. But Vice Media, which started as a government-subsidized paper-and-ink magazine and has since become a surging player in the digital media space, is making a move into traditional linear television. The New York Times is reporting that it plans to launch its channel, Viceland, in February of 2016, part of a partnership with its investor, A&E.
Vice has already been dabbling in traditional television, producing a longform news program in partnership with HBO. The slate of shows for the new channel, whose development has been overseen by Spike Jonze, includes new titles like Gaycation with Ellen Page and Portraits with Marc Maron, as well as titles it already hosts on YouTube like Weediquette and Fuck That's Delicious.
The channel has been in the works for some time but was delayed, reportedly after failing to close some distribution deals with cable providers. There are likely several sticking points in the negotiation, including Vice's insistence that its channel carry far fewer ads than the average cable network, and that it be allowed to bring its new series to the web at the same time as television, without the traditional waiting period known as a "window."
Vice Media co-founder and CEO Shane Smith was characteristically bombastic on the plans for Viceland. "First: It allows us to be truly platform agnostic and enable our audience to view our content wherever they want. 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."
And let's not forget making money! "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." Native TV advertising, here we come.