Vice Media and Canada’s Rogers Communications, a media and communications conglom, have formed a $100 million joint venture to create a multimedia production studio and national TV network dedicated to original programming from the Great White North.
The new studio, to be based in Toronto, will operate under Vice’s creative direction and will aim its fare at younger, digitally-savvy demos. Vice Canada Studio will focus on delivering news and entertainment content for TV, mobile and digital devices. The $100 million in funding is in Canadian dollars; the JV is a 50-50 venture between Vice and Rogers.
The pact includes plans for the Vice TV Network, a dedicated Canadian TV channel distributed throughout the country. Rogers is the No. 1 cable operator in the country, with about 2 million video subs.
For New York-based Vice, it’s a homecoming of sorts: The company started out as a counterculture magazine published in 1994 from Montreal, Quebec.
The Rogers deal comes after Vice Media this fall closed $500 million in funding from A+E Networks and Technology Crossover Ventures, valuing Vice at more than $2.5 billion.
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“We wanted to build a powerhouse for Canadian digital content focused on 18- to 34-year-olds,” said Guy Laurence, Rogers president and CEO. “Vice was the obvious choice to partner with. They started in Canada but then moved to New York to prove they could build a global media company, which they’ve done… We’re going to shake up Canada with exciting, provocative content and we’ll export it around the world.”
Added Vice Media founder Shane Smith: “Essentially we are building a content-creation hub that will generate premium video for a cutting edge media company that will program — simultaneously — the holy trinity of convergence: mobile, online and TV.”
Vice Canada Studio will produce Canadian-focused content including news, drama, documentaries and programming covering food, sports, fashion, tech and other topics. The JV plans to work with Canadian directors, producers, journalists, editors and filmmakers and will launch an incubator with workshops aimed at developing journalists across Canada.
The pact also encompasses: daily mobile alerts of Canadian-created news and information including exclusives for Rogers and Fido customers; Vice TV Formats, a new slate of television formats developed, produced and made with Canadian talent to air on the Vice TV Network; and Vice Plus, mobile versions of Vice franchises including environmental show “Toxic” and “F*ck That’s Delicious” starring rapper and former chef Action Bronson.
Separately, Vice will continue to produce its original docuseries for HBO and has a production deal with global television giant FremantleMedia.