Vice Media founder Shane Smith returned to his native Canada on Thursday to unveil a $100 million partnership with media giant Rogers Communications.
The tie-up will see Rogers and Vice jointly build a new production studio in Toronto to make Canadian-focused mobile, web and TV content in Toronto for domestic and worldwide distribution. The partners will also launch a new 24-hour Vice Media TV channel in Canada.
Smith told a Toronto press conference of his early roots with Vice, beginning 20 years ago with a punk magazine in Montreal, before explaining why he had returned to Canada after a worldwide expansion to tie up with Roger and its TV, mobile and online pipes.
“This year we return to the homeland, all our hard lessons learned, to build from scratch a completely horizontally and vertically integrated ultra-modern media entity,” said Smith. That calls for a local studio where Vice can produce next-generation digital content, with an ability to make feature films.
“This is the most ambitious project we’ve ever done,” he added. Smith said Vice had grown online, but mobile represented its future.
He is also back working with Rogers Communications CEO Guy Laurence, with whom he six years ago made mobile phone content when Laurence was with Vodafone U.K. “We were ahead of the game, he was ahead of the game. We got there too quick,” said Laurence.
Smith said he was partnering with Rogers because it had the broadcast, mobile and online assets Vice needed to exploit the cross-platform potential of making convergent broadcast and over-the-top content at the same time.
“This is the future,” he argued, pointing to making mobile, online, TV and over-the-top content all at once. “We will be under the microscope here, and all the majors will watch because these are all the questions that every major has and they can’t figure it out,” Smith said.
“If it works here, it will be replicated not just by us, but everyone,” he added when asked whether Vice will expand elsewhere internationally with its new Canadian production model.