Vice TV is an American pay television channel based on the digital media company and print magazine of the same name, owned by a joint venture majority-owned by A&E Networks (who owns a 10% stake in Vice Media, alongside a separate 10% stake owned directly by A&E's co-owner Disney). Known as Viceland until December 2, 2019, it is a part of Viceland-branded television channels worldwide. The channel launched on February 29, 2016 (on the same day as the now-defunct Canadian version of the channel), replacing H2 on most multichannel television providers in the United States.
|Launched||February 29, 2016|
|Owned by||Vice Media, A&E Networks|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
(downgraded to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Slogan||It's a TV channel|
|Headquarters||Brooklyn, New York|
|Orby TV||Channel 133|
|Dish Network||Channel 121 (HD/SD)|
|DirecTV||Channel 271 (HD/SD)|
|Available on most American cable providers||Channel slots may vary on each operator|
|Verizon FiOS||Channel 127 (SD)|
Channel 697 (HD)
|AT&T U-verse||Channel 257 (SD)|
Channel 1257 (HD)
|Google Fiber||Channel 2 (SD)|
Channel 238 (HD)
|Philo||Internet Protocol television|
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
Operating under the creative direction of film director Spike Jonze, Vice TV has a focus on lifestyle-oriented documentary and reality series aimed towards millennials, leveraging the resources of Vice's verticals with new original series, along with adaptations of and reruns of existing Vice web series. The network's launch programs featured programs hosted by existing Vice personalities such as Action Bronson and Thomas Morton, as well as notable figures such as Eddie Huang, Ellen Page, and Lance Bangs.
In August 2014, A&E Networks acquired a 10% stake in Vice Media. On November 3, 2015, A&E Networks officially announced that Vice would "take over" its channel H2 and re-launch it as a new service, Viceland, "as early as" February 2016. Vice Media CEO Shane Smith stated that the channel was the "next step in the evolution of our brand and the first step in our global rollout of networks around the world", signifying that Vice would now be "platform-agnostic" with the addition of television to Vice's traditionally digital media-oriented strategy, and be capable of producing high-quality media. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Smith explained that, despite Vice traditionally being oriented towards digital content, "75 percent of the world's advertising budget" was being spent on television advertising, and that partnering with an established media company gave Vice access to A&E's infrastructure and the 70 million homes that already received H2, rather than having to build Viceland entirely from scratch and negotiate carriage with providers.
A&E Networks handles the distribution and operations of Viceland, and assists in advertising sales. Vice holds a 49% minority stake and control of international expansions. Smith stated that the network planned to "test new and innovative monetization strategies", including a goal for only 10 minutes of commercial advertising per-hour, and to leverage Vice's existing production capabilities and experience with native advertising to produce sponsored short-form content for advertisers to air in lieu of traditional commercials.
Prior to launch day, Vice ran newspaper ads for Viceland, containing only the network's name and a phone number that, when called, invited viewers to contribute answers to questions. On February 29, 2016 at 6:00 a.m. ET, the channel began broadcasting a countdown clock to the official relaunch as Viceland later in the evening, accompanied by footage of Vice executives answering the viewer-contributed calls as voice mail. The network's first program following the official launch was the series premiere of Noisey, following hip-hop musician Kendrick Lamar.
Vice's programming consists primarily of lifestyle-oriented documentaries and reality series aimed towards millennials, directed in Vice's trademark style of "character-driven documentaries". Creative director Spike Jonze stated that his goal for Viceland was to make its lineup have "a reason to exist and a strong point of view", rather than be just a "collection of shows". Jonze explained that Viceland would continue to reflect Vice's core mission of "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." Smith stated that the channel's main goal was "trying not to be shitty". Viceland will focus primarily on lifestyle content; Vice News content will remain largely exclusive to Vice's existing joint venture with HBO. Jonze stated that unlike the HBO content, Viceland would be "far from objective [reporting]".
Thirty different programs were developed for Viceland, including original series and expanded versions of existing Vice's web series. Original programs announced for the initial slate included Thomas Morton's Balls Deep, Flophouse— a series where Lance Bangs follows the lives of up-and-coming comedians at underground stand-up events, Fuck, That's Delicious— a television version of the food-oriented web series starring Action Bronson, Gaycation— a series in which Ellen Page explores the LGBT cultures of different regions, Huang's World— featuring Eddie Huang "exploring identity using food as an equalizer", King of the Road— a series following skaters on Thrasher Magazine's annual scavenger hunt, States of Undress— a series focusing on fashion weeks around the world, the music documentary series Noisey, Vice World of Sports, and Weediquette— which focuses on the mainstream cannabis culture and industry. Blocks of existing short-form content from Vice (Vice Lab) are also featured, along with other, acquired content— such as Friday-night airings of cult films accompanied by Vice Guide to Film documentaries on their directors. 10 of the 30 original programs planned were produced in Canada, including Cyberwar— which focuses on cyberterrorism, and Dead Set on Life— an expansion of Matty Matheson's food-oriented web series Keep It Canada.
A month after Viceland's initial launch, the network announced a second slate of shows, including Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch ‘Ancient Aliens’—a series in which Action Bronson watches episodes of Ancient Aliens with guests whilst smoking marijuana, Black Market— a series in which Michael K. Williams explores underground economies around the world, the U.S. premieres of Cyberwar and Dead Set on Life, Party Legends— a show about re-enactments of entertaining party stories, WOMAN— a series in which Gloria Steinam features the lives of different women around the world, and VICE Does America— which Abdullah Saeed and two VICE co-workers explore forgotten places of the world.
Jonze stated that Viceland's original programs will have varying lengths, stating that "some are four episodes. Some are six. Some are eight. We're making everything based on what feels right", and that extended episodes may be possible if warranted.
On May 3, 2016, Vice announced a partnership with ESPN (a fellow Disney/Hearst venture) to produce sports-oriented content for its properties. The deal also includes some content-sharing between ESPN and Viceland, such as encore airings of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries on Viceland, and airings of Vice World of Sports on ESPN. In June 2016, Viceland broadcast live coverage of the Governors Ball Music Festival.
On February 24, 2019, the channel launched Vice Live, a two-hour live show airing Mondays through Thursdays at 9PM. The series was meant to anchor Viceland's primetime lineup and act as a replacement for Desus & Mero after that show's hosts moved to Showtime. Shortly after debuting, Vice Live was trimmed down to an hour. Due to low ratings, the show was cancelled after its April 11, 2019 episode aired.
In August 2019, Vice Media announced that the channel was merging with Vice News as a part of its shift from entertainment and lifestyle programming to a news-based lineup. Earlier that month, the company had also announced that Vice News Tonight, which aired on HBO from 2016 to 2019, would re-launch in 2020 on the network, now renamed Vice TV. These decisions were made after a decline in ratings and viewership under the network's established niche.
In August 2016, it was reported that average viewership of Viceland's programming was down by nearly half over H2 (in a period from November 28 to December 15, 2016, the network had average primetime viewership of 58,000 in the 18-49 demographic, down from 95,600 one year prior under H2). However, the median demographics of the network were beginning to skew younger than H2, and some premieres had achieved upwards of 100,000 viewers. A&E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc defended the numbers, stating that the network's goal was to "attract an audience that is not watching much TV," and that they were "trying to pivot the conversation away from just purely ratings"—noting that Viceland had already received several Emmy nominations for its programs within its first three months of operation.
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