MIPTV: FremantleMedia and Vice to Launch Food Channel

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Shane Smith

Food-focused programs will launch on online vertical Munchies before being sold to international broadcasters.

CANNES -- FremantleMedia and Vice will launch a fully co-owned online cooking channel, Munchies, with a lineup of five original shows on munchies.tv.

The programs are titled Fresh Off the Boat, Chef's Night Out, Girl Eats Food, Being Frank and the creatively titled F*ck That's Delicious. FremantleMedia and Vice will co-produce the shows and co-own the intellectual property.

Munchies will have 100 hours of programming in the first year. Episodes will be of varied length -- from a few minutes to an hour depending on the length of time needed to properly tell the story -- and the content will be released on multiple platforms, including the website and YouTube.

The partnership aims to capitalize on Vice's youth-reach and production values, and Fremantle's global marketing reach. The companies are teasing the content during MIPTV here, before Fremantle packages the online programming for international sale during the next market.

Vice chief creative officer Eddy Moretti said that the channel is already in discussions with two U.S. lifestyle channels for two of the titles. Because of the varied length of the shows, they aim to be easily edited for various markets. As a "global food channel," they will be producing content in all of the 34 countries where Vice has a presence.

Vice's unique take on youth culture and intense brand loyalty will influence the channel, making food relevant to the audience it has previously reached with its music and documentary content. "Food is the new rock 'n' roll," said Moretti. "The people with tattoos that were starting bands are now opening restaurants."

Munchies will also explore the politics and economics of food, topics of particular interest to the youth demographic that is Vice's core audience.

"There's a huge food movement -- farm-to-table, genetically modified food, how much energy does it take -- it's one of the largest industries in the world that doesn't get looked at. It's a massive issue for young people, and we don't want it to just be cooking shows," said Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith.

Though the five programs are personality driven, with hosts such as Taiwanese-American chef Eddie Huang and London-based Joanna Fuertes-Knight, the channel will include the travel, lifestyle and investigative reporting that has become the Vice brand.

"We don't have to be limited to do the same type of food program that everyone else is doing," said Smith. "For news, they said that people are interested in news and young people in America aren't interested in international. We have one of the most popular news shows on the air because we do international news. For our YouTube channels, we have the highest time on site on all of YouTube and the best subscription rate, all because we are doing things they said not to do. … We are going to develop some franchises that are new and fresh," he added.

FemantleMedia CEO digital and branded entertainment Keith Hindle would not reveal production costs for the shows or episodes, which looked as beautifully shot and slickly produced as any network program in the morning screening here, but said the channel will "benefit from the enthusiasm" of Vice's young Brooklyn-based team and field producers.
The Munchies campaign will roll out over the next six weeks across Vice's other six YouTube channels, advertising on another 300 Vice-controlled websites and in a social media campaign.
The channel has even bigger branding plans, such as participation in food festivals and tastings on the plate, as well as an extensive build-out of the vertical's website that includes a restaurant reservation service, a "food locator" concierge service and licensed merchandise.