Vice’s upcoming TV channel has received an official introduction. The publication known for its edgy, off-the-beaten-path reporting aimed at young consumers will launch Viceland, a channel that will take over A&E’s H2 hub.
Viceland (which is the channel’s working title) has been a long time coming. When A&E purchased a 10% share in Vice for a reported price of $250 million in August 2014, rumors swirled that A&E would re-brand one of its channels to create a TV home for Vice. At first, HLN was believed to be a top target for that change, but ultimately, A&E decided that H2–a secondary outlet for the History Channel–would be the channel it gifted to Vice. As part of the deal, A&E will handle technology and distribution for the new channel, Vice will take care of marketing and programming, and the two companies will unite on the ad sales front.
Vice is also expected to raise some additional capital in order to assist its TV push. According to the Wall Street Journal, A&E will pick up an additional 7% stake in the company, and Disney will invest ~$200 million in it.
The programming on Viceland, which will all be produced in-house at Vice, was first teased during the publication’s presentation at the 2015 Newfronts. Celebrity-driven programs like Gaycation (with Ellen Page) and Black Market (with Michael K. Williams) will lead a programming slate that will feature several hundred hours of content and is expected to reach 70 million American homes. The man in charge of Viceland’s programming is Spike Jonze, an Oscar winner and frequent Vice collaborator.
When it launches, Viceland will be a huge step forward for Vice, but in discussing the new channel, CEO Shane Smith made sure to remind everyone that this is just the first part of what will be a 18-month expansion into a dozen TV markets. Here’s how he described Viceland in a press release:
“This network is the next step in the evolution of our brand and the first step in our global roll-out of networks around the world. 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. 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.”
While Viceland’s exact launch date is not known, it is expected to arrive sometime in “early 2016,” according to the release.