Viceland to Launch in U.K. on Sky
The Vice Media channel will debut on Sky and Now TV in September.
Less than a month after launching its own channel in the U.S., Vice Media announced Wednesday that it would also launch in the U.K. and Ireland.
At Vice's British headquarters in London on Wednesday, CEO Shane Smith unveiled a non-exclusive deal with Sky that will see Viceland launch on the pay TV operator and its Now TV online-only service in September. The 24-hour channel will be programmed, developed and produced entirely in-house by Vice, with Sky looking after ad sales.
The channel launch in Britain is the first to be announced outside of North America, although Smith said there were "advanced negotiations" in several other European countries.
Smith also said that Viceland going with Sky — of which Rupert Murdoch's Fox has a 39 percent stake alongside its 5 percent stake of Vice — had nothing to do with the relationship with its shareholder.
"None [of the Sky deal] was driven by Fox," he said. "If a shareholder and a board member can help, we'll take help all day long. We went territory by territory and said, 'Who's the best? Sky's the best. Let's go.'"
Among the shows in the initial lineup showcased in London will be Viceland's in-house programming, including Black Market, F--- That's Delicious, Weediquette, Noisey, Motherboard and Gaycation. However, Smith said that there were plans to dramatically increase local U.K. production over time.
"We're knocking down walls upstairs here," he said of the U.K. office's planned TV-focused expansion, adding that they would be doing the same at Vice's bases in Germany, Greece and other European markets.
From research online, Smith said that he eventually wanted international territories to get a 50/50 or 60/40 mix of U.S. content and country-specific material, but said the company could "play with that" and that there were several Vice-owned formats that it could localize.
He also said that the "next phase" for Viceland would be scripted programming, some in-house and some produced outside Vice's wall, and headed by its co-president Spike Jonze. Smith described Jonze as a "lightning rod for talent."
Asked what he had learned in the few weeks since the launch of Viceland in North America, Smith joked: "People like weed."