Vice Media to Launch Cable TV Channel in Canada

Shane Smith - H 2015
AP Images

Shane Smith - H 2015

The youth-focused brand, run by CEO Shane Smith, will launch Viceland in early 2016 with Canadian partner Rogers Communications.

Vice Media and Canadian cable and mobile giant Rogers Communications on Thursday unveiled plans to launch a new Canadian TV channel, Viceland, in early 2016.

The move follows New York-based Vice earlier this week confirming it will launch Viceland stateside in partnership with A+E Networks. In Canada, Rogers will replace its current bio channel with Viceland, and offer cross-platform content aimed at an adults 18-34 demo.

Vice Media co-founder Suroosh Alvi on Thursday told a Toronto press conference that launching Viceland completes a "holy trinity" of media for his youth-focused brand. "We've been making video for 10 years, and now with mobile and TV, we have our content traveling across all screens," he explained.

Content for Viceland in Canada will include U.S.-originated primetime shows, including Gaycation with Ellen Page and Black Market with Michael K. Williams. Programming will also come out of Vice's new $100 million Toronto production studio, part of a joint venture launched with Rogers in Oct. 2014.

"Our goal is to make amazing shows here that will cross the border and resonate down south, and have hits internationally that are produced out of this office. It's going to happen," Alvi said. Viceland in Canada will feature locally-made series like Terror, hosted by Alvi, documentary series like Cyberwar and RISE, and Canadian pop culture guides.

Alvi and co-founder CEO Shane Smith started Vice in 1994 as an alternative weekly magazine in Montreal. Alvi told The Hollywood Reporter that Vice around 15 years ago moved to the U.S., where it is currently based in New York City, and expanded internationally because it didn't have the scale in Canada to effectively reach its target audience.

"We moved to the States because we were hitting the ceiling in Canada in terms of finding an audience that was consuming our content. It was a small audience, and to go bigger we would have had to change our content, which we didn't want to do," he explained.

Now, with the Rogers joint venture, Vice is returning to Canada to expand, counter-intuitively, into TV. And that works for Rogers, a traditional cable carrier needing a digitally savvy partner to target elusive young audiences.

Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media, which offers radio, TV, mobile phone and Internet services in Canada, told THR: "For [Vice], the final piece is they actually wanted a linear channel. So the combination of all of those things, and all the other media we have, gives them a huge megaphone."