Vice will launch its own cable TV channel in early 2016, tentatively named Viceland, the company said today. Its entry to the lucrative world of cable TV — long a dream of the company's co-founder Shane Smith — will come via a takeover of the H2 channel currently owned by A+E Networks, which owns 10% of Vice.
The channel will reach about 70 million U.S. homes, the companies said.
Spike Jonze, Vice's creative director, is overseeing the new channel. "We wanted Viceland to be different, to feel like everything on there has a reason to exist and a strong point of view," he said. "If it doesn't have a strong point of view then it shouldn't be on this channel."
Jonze has directed films including Being John Malkovich and Academy Award winner Her and was the co-creator of Jackass. Viceland will debut with prime time shows including Gaycation, a travel show hosted by actress Ellen Page, and Huang's World with celebrity chef Eddie Huang.
And to celebrate the company's entry into the big-money world of cable TV, Disney is reportedly set to invest another $200 million into Vice, adding to the more than $500 million it has already raised from investors. A+E, a joint-venture between Disney and Hearst, bought a 10% stake in Vice last year for $250 million. The Wall Street Journal, which reported the new investment yesterday, said Vice will transfer another 7% of its equity to A+E as part of the new deal.
The Brooklyn-based media company has been wildly successful in producing branded promotional videos for its advertisers, and seems set on taking the same approach with its cable channel. Viceland will "re-imagine the nature of the television commercial," the company said, "making the commercial time a valuable extension of the entertainment programming itself"
Vice co-founder Shane Smith said the new channel was "the next step in the evolution of our brand and the first step in our global roll-out of networks around the world." And for those who might worry Vice is selling out to the Man in its dealings with Disney, fear not. Smith said the channel will run things that "challenge the accepted norms of current TV viewing."
Tom Gara is the opinion editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tom Gara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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