But the youth-targeting media company’s 46-year-old founder and CEO soon got to his feet to announce that Vice would launch 20 TV channels across the globe this year — coming after the debut of Viceland on U.S. cable in February — along with seven new websites (a rep later said there will be six).
The TV rollout plan will make Vice “the fastest-growing network in the f—ing history of TV,” Smith said, drawing scattered cheers from the audience.
Vice’s new digital channels will be dedicated to Health — as previously reported by Variety — Gaming, Travel, LGBTQ, Money and Sustainability. These join Vice’s existing lineup of 11 owned-and-operated channels, which include Vice News, Noisey, Motherboard and Munchies.
After his short intro, Smith (who told the crowd he had consumed “a few ales” beforehand) jumped over to the band stage and performed 1970s punk anthem “If The Kids Are United” by Sham 69.
According to Vice, since the launch of Viceland it has signed advertisers including Unilever, Samsung, ABI, BofA, Toyota, T-Mobile, Diageo and Shinola. Smith boasted that Viceland was the “fastest aging-down of a network in the history of television,” after it replaced A+E Networks’ H2 (an extension to History channel) on Feb. 29. Nielsen is not releasing national ratings for Viceland in the first six months after launch under an agreement with Viceland.
The Vice TV networks will launch across Europe and Asia. The company has announced deals in Canada with Rogers Communications, in the U.K. with Sky and in France with Canal Plus.
The event, held Friday afternoon at Pier 59 Studios in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood, began nearly an hour after the scheduled 4 p.m. start time.
Vice’s “house band” comprised Nick Zinner and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jaleel Bunton of TV on the Radio and producer Money Mark. Special guest vocalists (in addition to Shane Smith) included: Win Butler from Arcade Fire, Pusha T, Charli XCX, Kurt Vile, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves and Kristin Kontrol.
Vice, originally founded as a punk mag in 1994 in Montreal, has attracted massive interest from traditional media firm. Its investors include A+E, Disney, 21st Century Fox and U.K. ad agency WPP.
This week, Vice announced a pact with ESPN, under which Vice will develop programming for ESPN TV and digital properties and some ESPN “30 for 30” segments will air on Viceland.