Vice Media continues to expand its digital footprint even as its focus is increasingly turned toward television.
The edgy youth media company’s newest online channel, Broadly, was the largest launch of any new Vice channel, CEO Shane Smith has revealed in video sent to staff and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. Although the company doesn’t break out traffic to its individual channels, that means Broadly, the first female-focused channel from Vice, had more online viewers during the month of August than the first month of the company’s 10 other channels, including Vice News and Vice Sports.
Traffic across Vice’s web properties grew to 96 million unique visitors in August, according to measurement firm comScore. That’s double the audience that comScore reported in August last year, and Smith says in the video that the company is on track to double that number by next year. A big driver of Vice’s audience is its international content. In fact, about 50 percent of Vice’s overall traffic comes from the company’s channels abroad, including in Germany, Mexico, Brazil and the U.K.
Smith notes in the video that Vice’s online traffic doesn’t include the company’s audience on other platforms, including its 2.2 billion total YouTube views, the people watching via Snapchat Discover, on mobile through Rogers Communications or on HBO, where Vice has a weekly news series and has plans to launch a daily newscast. Factoring in those audiences, Vice claims to reach between 250 million and 300 million people a month depending on which shows are currently airing new episodes.
Vice has come a long way from its start as a free alternative magazine in Montreal in the mid-1990s. One of its first video partners was Viacom’s MTV Networks, which financed early Vice video network VBS.tv. The venture would have given Viacom, which is now seeing ratings declines across its network of cable channels, the opportunity to plant an early flag in the fast-growing online video space, but Vice is said to have bought out MTV’s stake in the venture not long after its 2006 launch.
After exploring a potential sale to Time Warner last year, Vice ultimately raised $500 million in funding from A&E Networks and Technology Crossover Ventures. The company expected to bring in about $915 million in revenue this year, according to a report last spring in the New York Times, and is worth about $4 billion.
Vice, which is currently producing 70 original series for its digital brands, has now set its sights on a cable channel. The company is expected to take over A+E’s H2 in early 2016 with a suite of programming including a series titled Gaycation, starring Ellen Page.
“The content we’re pushing out to hundreds of millions of people actually — and this is what I’m most proud of — isn’t garbage,” Smith says in the video before rattling off the company’s latest awards, including the Emmy it won last year for informational series or special. He later adds: “It’s the greatest time in history to make content and we’re there. We’re at the right place at the right time and it’s perfect.”
Watch the video here: