Viceland to Go Off the Air on Canada's Rogers Communications
The Canadianized TV channel from New York City-based Vice Media has been bleeding revenue and subscribers.
Canadian cable and mobile giant Rogers Communications has terminated a $100 million joint venture with Vice Media, which includes a Viceland Canada 24-hour cable channel and a Toronto production studio.
Rogers Media, the parent's media division, has transferred its 70.1 percent interest in Vice Studio Canada to Vice Canada, a division of New York-based Vice Media with assets in Toronto and Montreal. And Viceland Canada will go off the air on March 31, 2018, Rogers confirmed.
Viceland content will become available to Canadian viewers on Vice.com. The move follows Viceland Canada bleeding revenue and subscribers, according to the latest figures from the CRTC, the country's TV regulator. Viceland Canada posted a $2.49 million pre-tax loss in 2016, the last fiscal year measured, against a pre-tax profit of $236,938 in 2015, with overall revenue for the channel falling 14.1 percent from $6.36 million in 2015.
"In this crowded content universe and as audience habits change, we continue to evolve our strategy to deliver unique content to Canadians," Rogers Communications said Monday in a statement. For its part, Vice Canada confirmed it has acquired full control of the Vice Canada studio in Toronto and a Viceland Canada content library comprising around 130 hours of original programming.
Vice Canada spokesperson Chris Ball told the Hollywood Reporter the joint venture with Rogers had helped launch Viceland Canada and set up the production studio. Vice Media's Canadian division is now in talks with unnamed local cable and broadcast players to possibly keep Viceland on air here after March 31, he added.
"Vice will continue to grow in Canada in 2018. We have a lot of opportunity ahead of us and will be announcing some new exciting partnerships soon," Ryan Archibald, president of Vice Canada, said in a statement. The end of Rogers’ Canadian partnership with Vice Media, the youth media company, brings to a close a $100 million, three-year content production and distribution pact that Vice CEO Shane Smith and former Rogers CEO Guy Laurence unveiled in October 2014.
At the time, Rogers looked to Vice Media to jointly produce mobile, web and TV content from a Toronto-based Vice Canada studio. Vice Media in Toronto has produced a host of Canadian-originated TV formats to air on the Viceland network internationally and mobile adaptations of Vice franchises.
The launch of the Canadian cable channel by Rogers was considered a major coup for the brash, outspoken Smith, whose company for years toiled on the fringes of traditional media as a Montreal-based alternative magazine. Over the years, Smith has commanded investments from Fox, A+E and Disney to help him build up the media brand with the hopes of taking it public.
The cable channel was seen as a key piece of Vice's growing media portfolio, though it has suffered from low ratings in its first two years in operation.
Jan. 22, 12:30 p.m. Updated with a statement and comment from Vice Canada.