Shane Smith a No-Show at Vice NewFront; Boxing Match Ensues

Vice Newfronts Desus and mero
Todd Spangler/Variety

Shane Smith, CEO of Vice Media, did not appear at the millennial media company’s Digital Content NewFronts party Friday in New York. Instead, the company entertained guests with… a boxing match between two dudes.

Smith, in a prerecorded video message played at the beginning of the presentation, joked that he was “not allowed to come anymore” to the NewFronts after his appearance last year. At the 2016 soirée, he lay down on the stage after admitting he imbibed “a few ales,” and then belted out punk-rock anthem “If The Kids Are United.”

But in the video clip Smith said the real reason he wasn’t there was because he was on location (somewhere) on a shoot, explaining that Vice has expanded to 80 countries worldwide.

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In his stead, the eponymous duo behind Viceland late-night talk show “Desus & Mero” (pictured above) served as emcees.

In the pitch to marketers, Vice boasted its aggregate reach of 288 million monthly people globally across all platforms (including via its own websites, on TV, and through services like YouTube and Snapchat). And the company said that the viewership of its Viceland cable channel has grown by double digits every quarter since launching in February 2016 (taking the place of A+E Networks’ H2). But that’s not saying much: From Nov. 28-Dec. 18, 2016, the channel averaged just 25,000 viewers in the 18-34 demographic during primetime (live plus same-day), and 58,000 in the 18-49 demo.

The canned sizzle reel for Viceland claimed it had the “stickiest ads” on cable TV, about which Desus riffed: “That sounds like something from Pornhub.”

One of the few bits of news: rapper Tyler, the Creator, will host a new Viceland show called “Nuts & Bolts,” taking a looking at how things are made. Vice also said it would bring digital channels including Vice News, Motherboard and Noisey to Amazon’s Twitch live-streaming platform (it staged a 72-hour marathon broadcast to launch its Waypoint gaming channel last fall). And it offered a sneak peek of the spoof “What Would Diplo Do?” starring James Van Der Beek as the world-famous DJ, which is coming to Viceland.

Following the main presentation, Eddie Huang, host of Viceland’s “Huang’s World” travel show, sparred with Vice chief of staff/producer Niall Cooney (dubbed “Shane’s Boy” by the ring announcer) in an actual boxing ring set up in the middle of the room at Tribeca’s Spring Studios. Huang won by decision in three rounds. His prize, supposedly, is free ad time on Viceland. (Vice live-streamed the bout on Facebook.)

The Vice shindig concluded with drinks and hip urban eats, as the blinds were raised to let in the ambient light of NYC’s foggy Friday afternoon.

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