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Vice in talks to create Euro networks

Millenial-focused multimedia group Vice TV is talking to the likes of Netflix, ITV and Discovery Communications about plans to launch a dozen TV networks across Europe.

Shane Smith

Shane Smith

Vice CEO Shane Smith said the company wanted to roll out channels over the next 12 to 18 months and was in “fast and furious” talks with major media firms including Sky and Channel 4 in the UK.

Vice linked up with Greek broadcaster Antenna in 2014 to set up a local service and the firm is also widely rumoured to be working with A+E Networks in the US to relaunch cablenet H2.

It has also forged ties with Canadian broadcast giant Rogers Communications for a local youth-skewing TV channel and recently appointed a global head of content to take charge of its digital business.

Smith told UK newspaper The Guardian that “a bit of a bidding war” was occurring with some European companies and added that there “are potentially a number of partners” in the UK and “lots of deals on the table.”

Vice is considering both multiterritory deals and setting up individual networks in each country, he added, revealing that joint ventures and buying networks outright were options.

The firm currently operates in 36 countries and claims to reach more than 150 million people per month across all platforms, including its suite of YouTube channels.

Smith, who said he had turned down offers from some European firms wanting to take equity stakes in Vice, added that he wanted to provide mobile, online and OTT services.

The company is set to make around US$1bn in revenue this year and is considering a flotation, while also preparing a number of series – still under wraps – for the prospective channels and its possible US venture with A+E.

Smith, who will lay out Vice’s European expansion plans in more detail at its IAB Digital Upfront presentation in London on Friday night, said the talks have been “slower than expected.”

Vice Media started life as a magazine in Montreal in 1994 before diversifying its business online and recently attracting hefty investment from the likes of A+E Networks and Fox.


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