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Viceland Faces Canada Shutdown After Rogers, Vice End Joint Venture

Vice is looking for a new Canadian roost for its Viceland cable network.

The bootstrapping media company and the Canadian cable distributor have ended a joint venture in a Vice production studio and Viceland. In a statement, Rogers said it planned to distribute content funding “to other Canadian content initiatives that better align with our portfolio and brands.” For the moment, Viceland faces a loss of its perch among Canadian viewers.

Vice is expected to seek a new Canadian distributor for Viceland, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Vice launched the cable network in early 2016 in both Canada and the U.S. Viceland airs different versions of many of the streaming-video programs Vice runs on its popular digital operations, along with movies and other content. In some instances, Viceland has re-aired programming that originally ran on ESPN, reflecting a large stake ESPN’s parent, Walt Disney, has taken in Vice. In the U.S., the network operates as a joint venture of Vice and A+E Networks, the cable-programming business owned by both Disney and Hearst.

Viceland ran into headwinds in Canada. A November report in Toronto’s Globe and Mail said the cable network suffered from low ratings and financial losses.  In 2014, Vice and Rogers formed a three-year JV with a $100 million (Canadian) investment, under which the parties created a multimedia production studio and launched Viceland Canada in 2016.

“This was purely a content business decision,” Rogers said in a statement.

Vice walks away from the joint venture with 150 hours of programming that it can seek to use elsewhere, according to the person familiar with the situation. Given viewer patterns, executives had anticipated Vice might have to find a new means of Canadian distribution for the property, this person said.

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