Verizon's Streaming Vice Network Will Beat A&E's Vice Channel to Market

Telecom Giant Paying Publisher for Exclusive Original Shows

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Vice Media CEO Shane Smith.
Vice Media CEO Shane Smith. Credit: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Vice is getting more than one TV channel after all, except the one it announced on Tuesday won't be available through people's cable-TV boxes. It will also arrive first.

Before Vice realizes its reported deal to take over A&E Networks' H2 cable-TV channel next year, Vice will debut a channel on Verizon's upcoming internet-delivered TV service, which the telecom giant has said it plans to introduce later this summer. The channel is expected to skew toward Vice's cultural content such as food and travel programs, as opposed to news, and will feature original programs produced exclusively for the service, starting with Vice's upcoming interview series "Autobiographies."

A&E Network's Vice channel will start off with distribution in millions of homes, of course, once it gets off the ground. Verizon's internet TV offering will start at zero.

The planned streaming service is another effort by pay-TV providers to serve consumers who don't pay for traditional, and traditionally expensive, services. TV into customers. Dish Network has already rolled out an internet TV service, and Comcast said earlier this week that it plans to follow suit.

As more internet TV services crop up with varying sets of programming, however, it seems content will crown the winners. Dish Network's Sling TV doesn't yet carry any of the broadcast TV networks, but offers roughly 20 cable TV networks including ESPN, CNN and AMC for $20 a month. For $15 a month, meanwhile, Comcast's Stream will carry the broadcast networks but no cable channels except for HBO.

Since acquiring the technology to power its TV service from Intel in January 2014, Verizon has only let a few details about the programming trickle out. In addition to Vice's content, it will feature live and on-demand programming including live NFL games as part of Verizon's deal with the NFL, shows from Scripps Networks Interactive's channels such as Food Network and Travel Channel, and videos from teen-centric digital video network AwesomenessTV.

The service is being developed primarily with smartphone and tablet screens in mind.

"Vice is connecting with an entire generation in a way that no one else is and Verizon will connect consumers to Vice in a way that no one else does by combining Vice's storytelling with the most compelling mobile video platform," said Terry Denson, VP of content strategy and acquisition at Verizon, in a statement.

As part of the multi-year deal between Vice and Verizon, the telecom giant is paying Vice to produce original content for the service, according to a person close to the matter. Spokesmen from Verizon and Vice declined to comment on financial details.

"Partnering with Verizon allows us to bring some of the best new Vice video to millions of new mobile viewers across America," said James Schwab, co-president at Vice, in a statement. "It's part of our commitment to push the boundaries of video distribution across all platforms; mobile is key to the emerging brave new world of video distribution, and with deals like this we are making sure we are staying at the bleeding edge of innovation in that space."

It's unclear how Vice and Verizon will make money from ads sold against Vice's channel, though Verizon is buying AOL, which brings a large ad-sales organization and a suite of ad-tech tools including the video ad network Adap.tv. Last month Verizon said it plans to let brands pay for the data that will be used to stream its internet TV service so its customers won't necessarily be stuck with that bill.

The deal with Verizon is the latest example of Vice finding distribution services hungry for its content. The publisher's best-known pact is with HBO; that arrangement began with a documentary series and was recently expanded into a four-year deal that will add a 5-day-a-week Vice newscast to the cable network later this year. Vice also has deals in plans with Snapchat, Spotify and Samsung to post articles or videos to those companies' respective media portals.

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