Vice Media has unveiled an expansive slate of international distribution deals that will make its multi-screen programming available to audiences in 51 territories, including India, Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and French-speaking Canada.
Among the media partners inking deals with the youth-skewed content group are The Times of India Group and the Moby Group for digital, mobile and linear distribution of Vice content in India and the Middle East and North Africa, respectively. Pacts were sealed for the distribution of the Viceland channels with SBS in Australia, Sky in New Zealand, Multi Channels Asia for Southeast Asia, Econet Media for Africa, and Groupe V Media for French-speaking Canada.
Shane Smith, Vice’s CEO and founder, said in a statement: “Earlier this year it was widely reported that I announced that we would launch Viceland in 12 countries in 12 months, and that is not true. We will in fact be launching in 44 countries (for those keeping score that’s less than four months in). Making Viceland the fastest-growing television network in history.”
The joint-venture deal with The Times of India Group includes provision for the production of local programming. The partners will dedicate “significant investments” to open Vice production and editorial operations in the country this year, including a headquarters in Mumbai, which will be staffed by local journalists, producers and filmmakers, and air “tailored local news and lifestyle programming around-the-clock,” said Vice. Viceland will launch as a paid TV network in the market. The partners will also launch Virtue India, an in-house creative-services agency, which will develop branded content for the Indian market.
Times Group managing director Vineet Jain said: “India is going through a great period and the world is taking us more seriously than before. I am excited with this partnership since Vice brings in a certain edginess and boldness to covering stories that the Indian market has not seen. I am confident that jointly, we will capture the attention of the millennials and help them get a deeper understanding of events and their implications to society.”
The Moby deal also has a production component, with the opening of local production studios across the region, the hiring of journalists and filmmakers, and the airing of tailored local news and lifestyle programming. The handling of cultural sensitivities may be an issue.
“The partnership will see Vice content specifically tailored for Middle East markets, meeting the huge demand for youth focused digital programming in a region that is underpinned by a surging youth population,” Vice said.
“An independent management team will provide creative stewardship to ensure Vice remains on brand, whilst adapting to the region’s nuances and sensitivities to develop relevant content for the region’s audiences.”
Saad Mohseni, chairman and CEO of Moby Group, said: “There’s a massive young audience in the Middle East and North Africa that’s intensely engaged in the debates and stories happening around them — but no one is focused on offering them the immersive, locally produced content that they want… We look forward to filling a vital void and reaching the digitally savvy young generation with content that matters to them.”
It emerged late last month that Vice has restructured its news division under the new leadership of ex-Bloomberg exec Josh Tyrangiel. Eighteen news staff were let go in the U.S. and U.K., while more than 20 have been hired since Tyrangiel joined, Vice said.