Vice Media LLC is a Canadian digital media and broadcasting company. Originating from the Montreal-based Vice magazine co-founded by Suroosh Alvi, Shane Smith, and Gavin McInnes (who left the company in 2008), Vice expanded primarily into youth and young adult–focused digital media, including online content verticals and related web series, the news division Vice News, a film production studio, and a record label among other properties. In 2015 Vice Media was called "[arguably] a poster child for new-media success—especially when it comes to attracting a valuable millennial audience."
|Private, limited liability company|
|Nancy Dubuc (CEO)|
Vice Media broadcasts two news programs on HBO. Vice News Tonight, which premiered October 10, 2016, showcases a nightly roundup of global news, technology, the environment, economics, and pop culture while eschewing traditional news anchors. HBO also broadcasts the Emmy-winning weekly documentary series Vice, which premiered on the network in April 2013. Vice features segments on global issues hosted by Shane Smith, co-founder Suroosh Alvi, and a rotating cast of correspondents.
Founding and early years (1994–2005)Edit
Vice Media founders Shane Smith, Suroosh Alvi, and Gavin McInnes launched the magazine Voice of Montreal in October 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with government funding to cover music, art, trends and drug culture not covered in print. The magazine was an alternative to the Montreal Mirror, then perceived as too mainstream by the Montreal alternative English speaking scene. During the 1990s, Montreal's Plateau Mont-Royal/Mile-End neighborhood was home to a burgeoning subculture with the advent of collectives such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Dummies Theatre, Bran Van 3000 and later Arcade Fire.
They changed the name to Vice in 1996, and as the magazine became increasingly popular, the company found it difficult to scale their operations while based in Canada. After being acquired in 1999 (By who?) and moving to New York City, the co-founders bought Vice back and moved to new offices in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2001. The magazine continued to gain attention and readership due to its content, commentary, and contributions from the likes of Terry Richardson, Ryan McGinley, and others. The magazine then rapidly expanded internationally, with Andrew Creighton and Andy Capper co-founding the UK division of Vice. The magazine then expanded further into five continents.
Digital expansion (2006–2011)Edit
In 2006, on the advice of creative director Spike Jonze, Vice began expanding into digital video, launching new video service VBS.tv as a joint venture with MTV Networks. VBS gained a fan base with shows like The Vice Guide To Travel, Epicly Later'd, Toxic and Hamilton's Pharmacopeia. The documentaries on the channel featured unusual subjects, and were hosted by young people working at Vice Media, often the founders themselves.
In 2007, Vice Media began aggressively expanding its digital video operation, launching new channels, such as Motherboard (tech), Noisey (music), and The Creators Project, an arts/technology site founded in partnership with Intel. Vice Media would later launch sites around electronic music culture (Thump), global news (Vice News), food (Munchies) and sports (Vice Sports). Additionally, Vice Media launched Virtue Worldwide, a creative services agency, to expand their capabilities for work around their platforms. During this time, Santiago Stelley was the director of content of VBS.tv (2006-2010) and creative director of Vice Media (2010-2012).
In January 2008 co-founder Gavin McInnes left Vice Media due to "creative differences" with the company, and founded the website streetcarnage.com. He later co-founded Rooster, an advertising agency.
According to Columbia Journalism Review, Vice has altered shots during the editing process in pursuit of more entertaining or impactful scenes. In a 2011 documentary on Libya, a voiceover from the reporter claim that he had gone to the frontlines amidst an offensive, while a source claims he did not make the trip, with only a cameraman going there.
Ongoing history (2012–present)Edit
In 2012, Vice Media continued to expand its coverage focused around news and current events.
With the end of VBS.tv, Vice began releasing films like UK's Scariest Debt Collector, Swansea Love Story, World's Scariest Drug, and Inside the Superhuman World of the Iceman through their main website and Youtube channel, as well as new series like Slutever, Fringes, Love Industry and High Society. Like previous Vice content, their online films and series almost always featured on-screen hosts such as Thomas Morton, Ryan Duffy, Matt Shea, Karley Sciortino, Charlet Duboc, and Krishna Andavolu.
In mid-August 2013, Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox invested US$70 million in Vice Media, resulting in a 5 percent stake. Following the announcement, Smith explained, "We have set ourselves up to build a global platform but we have maintained control."
In 2013 Vice Media premiered a new 30-minute news program for HBO titled Vice, executive produced by Bill Maher. In 2014, the second season of the show won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series or Special in the 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
In 2014, Vice Media launched its news channel, Vice News, which almost immediately gained global attention for its coverage of protests and conflict in Ukraine and Venezuela. As of October 2014, the leader of BBC's Newsdesk claimed the organization was "playing catch-up" to Vice News.
Vice Media has routinely advocated for their "immersionist" brand of journalism in the pursuit of more authentic and interesting stories. Their founders and editors have regularly garnered controversy from the likes of The New York Times' David Carr, who bristled in an exchange with Shane Smith in the 2011 documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times. In a 2014 Time column, Carr said that Vice had since grown into a strong news entity. In August 2014, Carr published a New York Times column further reversing his earlier criticism of Vice, saying, "Being the crusty old-media scold felt good at the time, but recent events suggest that Vice is deadly serious about doing real news that people, yes, even young people, will actually watch."
On July 2, 2014, Vice Media announced that it would be relocating into a warehouse space in Williamsburg formerly occupied by music venues 285 Kent, Death by Audio, and Glasslands. Vice spent US$20 million to renovate the 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) building as part of an eight-year lease, facilitating the establishment of new production facilities with full broadcast capabilities, and received an offer of US$6.5 million in tax credits from New York state's Empire State Development.
In August 2014, A&E Networks, a television group jointly owned by The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation, made a $US250-million investment in Vice Media for an ownership stake of 10%. In November and December 2015, Disney made two additional individual investments of US$200 million totaling $400 million.
On March 26, 2015, HBO announced it would renew its contract to broadcast the weekly Vice documentary series for four years, while expanding the annual broadcast schedule from 14 to nearly 30 episodes. The network also announced Vice would be launching a nightly news program. The show, entitled "Vice News Tonight," premiered October 10, 2016 and is slated to run 48 weeks each year, featuring pre-edited video and graphics segments covering global news, technology, the environment, economics and pop culture, while eschewing the use of live TV anchors.
On March 14, 2017, Vice announced an expanded original programming deal with Snap Inc. The new deal builds on VICE's previous deal to serve as a 2015 global launch partner on the Snapchat Discover platform. The first program planned under the new deal is Hungry Hearts with Action Bronson, starring the titular rapper. Also in March 2017, Vice announced a wide range of content deals which would make its programming available in more than 80 territories by the end of 2017.
On December 23, 2017, The New York Times reported that there have been four settlements involving allegations of sexual harassment or defamation against Vice employees. In addition, over twenty other women stated that they had experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct, including unwanted kisses, groping, lewd remarks and propositions for sex, at the company. In a statement provided to The New York Times, Vice co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi said, "from the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive." In January 2018 it was announced that president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano were suspended as the company investigated charges against them. Vice's COO/CFO Sarah Broderick sent a memo to staff on January 2, 2018 announcing the suspension of Creighton, who paid a $135,000 settlement in 2016 to a former employee who said she was fired after turning him down, and Mike Germano, who's served as chief digital officer. Germano founded Carrot Creative, which was acquired by Vice in 2013; he's been accused of pulling a former colleague onto his lap at a company party, as well as telling his former strategist Amanda Rue he originally didn't want to hire her "because he wanted to have sex with her." Vice has also been criticized by current and former employees for featuring work by Terry Richardson, a photographer facing accusations of sexual abuse by multiple models. In another documentary, a former female employee covering a story about sex workers in a developing country said Vice attempted to "sensationalize and exploit" the women depicted. In one occasion, producers requested her to go undercover as a prostitute, which she refused. She also remarks being oriented to swear more while on camera.
In March 2018, Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith announced he was transitioning out as CEO and would take on the new title of Executive Chairman. Former A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc succeeded Smith as CEO. "Smith will now be focused on creating content and strategic deals and partnerships to help grow the company."
In June 2017, Vice secured a $450-million investment from private-equity firm TPG Capital to increase spending on scripted programming and ongoing international expansion. As a result of the deal, Vice Media was valued at $5.7 billion. In September 2018 , Disney wrote down its investment in Vice by $157 million. Disney would acquire Fox's stake in Vice when its acquisition of 21st Century Fox is completed.
On August 20, 2018, Vice's Munchies & Fremantle Media signed a deal with Triple Five Group to gain control of the food hall at American Dream Meadowlands. The food hall is expected to open in April 2019
In November 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Vice Media was looking to trim its workforce by 10-15 percent, relying on attrition rather than layoffs. The same month, CEO Nancy Dubuc told an audience at the New York Times Dealbook conference that Vice would return to profitability the following year. In March 2019 it was reported that Vice Media is looking to raise a new $200 million in funding
Vice Media holds a range of online and offline properties. Digital channels include:
|Motherboard||2010||Technology and science|
|Munchies||2014||Food and cooking|
|Tonic||2016||Health and wellness|
- ^ Launch refers to year where the first Vice-produced video was released on their respective YouTube channels.
- ^ In 2014, Vice Media took over the YouTube-funded channel The NOC, which was launched in 2012.
VICE Media operates a range of digital and offline entities, a live music venue and other enterprises. These include:
Vice is a print magazine and website focused on arts, culture, and news topics. Founded in 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the magazine was the first product of the media company now known as Vice Media.
Vice News is the name of Vice Media's current affairs brand, consisting of ViceNews.com, a nightly news program called Vice News Tonight, and an Emmy-winning weekly news program, Vice, both airing on HBO. Vice News focuses on coverage of events that may not be as well covered by other news sources. On May 24, 2016, Vice Media promoted Josh Tyrangiel to oversee a unified Vice News division consisting of Vice News, the weekly HBO Vice News show, and the daily "Vice News Tonight."
Vice News creates content daily, distributing written articles and video on its website and YouTube channel. In 2015, the channel won two Peabody Awards for its video series "The Islamic State" and "Last Chance High."
In 2013, HBO aired the first 10-episode season of a half-hour newsmagazine known as Vice, with Bill Maher as executive producer. The initial season saw international coverage for the season one finale that had Vice play an exhibition basketball game in North Korea with Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters. The show was renewed for a second season, which aired in 2014 and won an Emmy award for Outstanding Informational Series or Special. The show was picked up for two more 14-episode seasons by HBO in May 2014, which aired in 2015 and 2016. The program is currently in its fifth season which was expanded to a total of 30 episodes.
In October 2016, a second Vice News program, a nightly news program called Vice News Tonight, premiered. The program is slated to run 48 weeks each year, featuring pre-edited video and graphics segments covering global news, technology, the environment, economics, and pop culture, while eschewing the use of live TV anchors.
Following the violent protests by white supremacists, white nationalists and other groups in Charlottesville, Va. at a Unite the Right Rally, Vice News tonight broke from its normal newsmagazine format to devote an entire episode to a documentary film on the events. The episode aired the same weekend as the rally, August 14, 2017. "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" garnered critical praise, with Esquire urging readers to "watch it and share it." In addition to featuring the video on its subscription streaming channels, HBO agreed to post the entire video on YouTube. Within two weeks, it had more than 44 million views between HBO and online platforms. The Guardian wrote that the film "lays bare" the "horror of neo-Nazis in America." The episode received a Peabody Award for public service journalism in April 2018.
Viceland is a cable television network operated by Vice primarily featuring documentary-style programs targeted toward millennials. It operates under partnership with local cable providers in the following regions:
|United States||A&E Networks|
|Belgium||Proximus and Telenet|
|Spain and Portugal||AMC Networks International Iberia|
|New Zealand||Sky Television|
|Indonesia||Jawa Pos Group|
|India||The Times Group|
Viceland was formerly available as a dedicated channel in Canada, through a partnership with Rogers Communications; however, this channel was shut down in March 2018 due to low viewership. In August 2018, Vice signed a new content deal with Bell Media to relaunch Vice-branded content in Canada on various Bell-owned properties including Much and CraveTV.
- 120 Days
- Action Bronson
- Almighty Defenders
- Black Lips
- Bloc Party
- Charlotte Gainsbourg
- Death From Above 1979
- Deniro Farrar
- Fucked Up
- Head Wound City
- King Khan and the Shrines
- Rich Boy
- Snoop Dogg
- The Raveonettes
- The Stills
- The Streets
- Team Spirit
- Vybz Kartel
Since 2007, Vice Media has released documentaries through the Vice Films label. Its first theatrical release was "White Lightnin'" in 2009. Vice Films released its first narrative feature, "Fishing Without Nets," in 2014. On December 8, 2014, 20th Century Fox and Vice Media announced they would collaborate to finance, produce, distribute, market, and acquire narrative films under the Vice Films brand.
Documentaries and features from Vice Films have been recognized by major U.S. and international film festivals. Cutter Hodierne received the best director award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 for "Fishing Without Nets." "The Bad Batch," another feature film, received the Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice Film Festival.
Vice Films also released 2008's feature length rockumentary "Heavy Metal in Baghdad," which followed the thrash metal band Acrassicauda in Iraq. The New York Times praised the production and reporting, calling it a "stirring testament to the plight of cultural expression in Baghdad and a striking report on the refugee scene in Syria."
Andy Capper directed "Reincarnated" starring Snoop Dogg and Diplo, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Netflix acquired the rights. He also made "Lil Bub & Friendz", which won the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
After it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2017, Netflix acquired the rights to the Vice Films documentary "Jim & Andy," about Jim Carrey's portrayal of the late Andy Kaufman in the movie "Man on the Moon." The film was directed by Chris Smith and produced by Spike Jonze.
The Vice Guide to EverythingEdit
The MTV series The Vice Guide to Everything, which premiered in December 2010, was a weekly news magazine featuring short video segments on various global issues, hosted by Shane Smith and roster of correspondents. The segments sought to cater to a younger audience with a more condensed, entertaining approach to the news. The series aired until 2011.
Vice Media has steadily acquired media properties and firms and closed deals in order to expand its global operations.
In June 2014, it was reported that Time Warner was negotiating to acquire a minority stake in Vice Media; among the company's plans were to give Vice Media control over the programming of HLN—a spin-off network of CNN which had recently struggled in its attempts to re-focus itself as a younger-skewing, social media-oriented news service. However, the deal fell through as the companies were unable to agree on a proper valuation, and Vice Media chose to partner with A&E Networks for a 10% minority stake. A&E's co-owner Disney made a second investment of $200 million.
On October 30, 2014, Vice Media announced a CDN$100 million joint venture with Rogers Communications that to facilitate the construction of production facilities in Toronto, as well as the introduction of a Vice-branded television network and digital properties in Canada in 2015. Rogers CEO Guy Laurence described the proposed studio as "a powerhouse for Canadian digital content focused on 18- to 34-year-olds" that will be "exciting" and "provocative." The content of the partnership will be aimed primarily toward digital platforms.
In November 2014, Vice Media announced that Alyssa Mastromonaco, who formerly worked in the Obama administration, would come on board as the company's chief operating officer in January 2015, and that James Schwab, who had previously advised Vice and DreamWorks on media deals, would be joining as Co-President.
In June 2016, at the Cannes Lions Awards, the company announced its planned expansion into over 50 countries, including partnerships with The Times of India Group and Moby that will see Vice enter the India and Middle East markets with digital, mobile, and linear operations. New Viceland channels have already launched in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
In late 2016, Vice announced a news and content expansion into the Indonesian market, with the goal of reaching the country's roughly 100 million young adults aged between 18 and 34 years. As of November 7, 2016, Vice had struck digital and cable programming deals with Google and Indonesian television network Jawa Pos TV to broadcast its original lifestyle, culture, and news content.
On March 1, 2017 at Mobile World Congress, Vice announced new content deals with mobile operators in multiple regions, including an extensive Asia Pacific expansion and renewed partnership with Verizon's Go90 branch. The new deals will bring Vice's content into more than 80 global territories by the end of 2017.
On March 22, 2017, Vice Media finalized a deal with French digital media studio Blackpills for the creation of a lineup of original short-form programming, set to premiere on Vice digital video hub, video.vice.com. Blackpills is set to enlist filmmakers including Luc Besson, Bryan Singer, and Zoe Cassavetes in the creative effort. Vice London subsidiary Pulse Films will also contribute original content that will air on video.vice.com.
Later in March 2017, while in India, Shane Smith discussed his partnership with the Times Group. The company will launch Vice India across all platforms later this year as well as their agency business, Virtue. Smith also revealed that the company had "held India back as a launch partner because it's so important to get it right. We didn't just want to come in, set up a studio and go. We wanted to have a plan, make sure we did it correctly." In June 2017, Vice announced a partnership with Brazilian media giant Grupo Globo that will see Vice grow its existing presence in the region through increased local production capabilities and increased mobile programming.
In November 2017, Vice announced the launch of a new Asia Pacific office with a dedicated CEO to oversee programming and business operations in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere in the region. The headquarters, in Singapore, will include "studio space that will be used for original documentary, drama, and film projects as well as by Vice's branding agency, Virtue."
Since 2004, the company has acquired the following properties:
Old Blue Last PubEdit
Vice runs a pub and music venue in Shoreditch, East London named The Old Blue Last, in which a live music program entitled "Live at the Old Blue Last" is filmed. After Vice bought the Old Blue Last in 2004, it underwent a series of improvements, with most taking place in 2010. Bands who have played at the venue include Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Chromeo, Black Lips, and Florence + the Machine.
Vice integrated with the British fashion magazine i-D in December 2012, with Vice president Andrew Creighton calling it "one of the only fashion publications in the world we actually respect."
In 2015, Vice announced it invested an "undisclosed sum" in VRSE.farm, a virtual reality company founded by acclaimed director Chris Milk. The announcement came alongside a debut VR experience at the Sundance Festival, a "virtual-reality journalism broadcast" made in partnership with Spike Jonze and Vice News.
In March 2016, Vice acquired controlling stake in UK television and film production company Pulse Films, to bolster its original programming efforts. As of March 22, 2017, Pulse Films produces original content including the series Pillowtalk and Twiz and Tuck Bucket List for exclusive release on video.vice.com, Vice's digital video hub.
In May 2018 Vice announced the acquisition of experiential events company Villain at its NewFronts presentation, but didn't reveal what they paid for it. Villain is based in a 15,000 ft warehouse near Vice's headquarters in Williamsburg, NYC. The company works with a host of major brands, including PepsiCo, Toyota and RedBull.
On January 26, 2017, Vice announced the consolidation of its in-house agency Virtue with Carrot Creative, a digital and mobile agency Vice acquired in 2013, Pulse Films, a production company Vice acquired in 2016 into the new "Virtue Worldwide." Based in Brooklyn, New York, the combined 450-person global consultancy provides the services of a full agency network and multi-platform content creation studio. Virtue Worldwide will be led by CEO Lars Hemming Jorgensen.
Relying on these in-house and acquired agencies, apart from its editorial operations, Vice works with advertisers to create global ad campaigns tailored to the company's younger audience. The ads generate revenue from the production of the ad and placement within a given media property. Vice maintains the separation between the production of branded and hard news content, while some critics contend that their operation "blurs the line between editorial and sponsorship". This practice is sometimes referred to as "native advertising," due to how ads are often mingled with regular content. Co-founder Alvi has also said that Vice has had "franchises that were underwritten by sponsors - that's our goal, to get a lot of our news franchises and stories and reports sponsored by advertisers. It's kind of the way news used to be in the fifties: 'Brought to you by Gillette' or whatever it was. We love that model."
Some of the brands that Vice has worked with are Google, Unilever, Bank of America, Samsung, Toyota, Levi Strauss & Co. and Intel. However, some advertisers have been controversial; Edition Worldwide, a subsidiary of Vice UK, was called "highly irresponsible" by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and other anti-smoking groups for their work producing content for tobacco giant Philip Morris International. This was seen as unethical by anti-tobacco groups due to the young audience which Vice News usually attracts. In March 2019, Vice accepted £5M from Philip Morris to promote e-cigarettes to young people.
On August 7, 2015, the roughly 70-person writing staff of Vice Media US voted to unionize, joining the Writers Guild of America, East. Vice management quickly recognized the union. The successful union drive followed in the footsteps of Salon, Gawker, and The Guardian.
Then, in September 2017, employees and freelancers who "work on video content for Vice.com, cable channel Viceland, and Vice programming on HBO" unionized through Writers Guild of America, East and the Motion Pictures Editors Guild. At the time, a leader from one of the unions said, "We have built a constructive relationship with Vice management and applaud the company for continuing to respect the right of its employees to engage in collective bargaining."
On May 2, 2017, Vice Media ratified a three-year collective bargaining agreement with 170 employees of the company's Canadian division who had joined the Canadian Media Guild union in 2016.
In February 2016, staff members at Vice UK called for unionisation with an officially recognised trade union by the National Union of Journalists. Staff members said this was following the steps of Vice US (which unionised with the Writers Guild of America, East), in order to allow the staff to "share in the success of the company", to strengthen job security by Vice providing better contracts, to address "pay issues ... so everyone gets a fair deal, including freelancers" and enhance career progression opportunities.
This proposition was rejected by Vice UK; the company refused to recognise the National Union of Journalists but instead said that they were free to set up an internal staff council. Vice chief executive, Matt Elek, claimed the NUJ had displayed "a concerning lack of transparency from them about who they are purporting to represent here [and had] not been able to provide us with any numbers to demonstrate the degree of support they have in this office", adding that: "The NUJ are used to working with old print media businesses and structures – they are not used to innovative, digital workplaces like this where the culture has always been to encourage flexibility and allow people work across different departments."
In response, Michelle Stanistreet (General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists) said:
The accusation that the NUJ has not been transparent in its discussions with Vice management is simply untrue. It's a shame that the company has proven so resistant to listening to its own staff and facilitating what they want – a collective voice at work. That the NUJ and its 30,000 members – including those at Vice – are not used to the reality of a digital workforce is laughable and shows it's the company who are out of date with 21st century trade unions. Rejecting calls for union recognition from their own journalists and then trying to fob them off with a Rupert Murdoch-style staff association is a pretty old-fashioned union-busting ruse that misses the point. NUJ officials and reps at Vice will continue with the push for recognition and if the company wants that to be gained through the law forcing their hand rather than through sensible engagement with their staff, so be it.
Office expansion in BrooklynEdit
In July 2014, Vice Media announced it would be moving its headquarters to a new building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where their New York office had been since 1999. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the move would allow them to double their current office size and hire about 500 new employees.
Following this announcement, the two music venues occupying the building, Glasslands Gallery and Death By Audio, soon announced the news they would be closing. Following the announcement from Glasslands management in October 2014 that the arts venue would close at the end of 2014, thereby making it the third Williamsburg music space to close through Vice Media's expansion—alongside 285 Kent and Death By Audio—Big Shot Magazine claimed that the Brooklyn music community had received a "proverbial kick in the groin."
After a series of articles covering the venues' eviction, BrooklynVegan reported on the deals that led to Vice Media moving into the new office, including terms buying out tenants and covering past overdue rent, that contradicted some press around the renovation of the building and Vice Media's dealings with the current tenants. Regardless, as the article puts it, "The concept of 'Vice vs. DIY' in Williamsburg is officially a thing."
After expanding into the Glasslands Gallery and Death by Audio space in 2014, Vice further expanded its Brooklyn footprint by leasing a 74,000 square foot property at 55 Washington Street. The new property houses agency acquisitions Carrot Creative along with other Vice corporate staff.
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