Vice Aims for World Domination With New Deals in 51 Countries

Announced Expansion Into Australia, India, Middle East and More at Cannes

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Vice Media is expanding into territories including India and the Middle East as the producer of bold cultural programming hunts for new audiences for its shows on music, food and drugs targeting younger viewers.

Vice unveiled deals to enter or expand in 51 countries Wednesday at Cannes Lions. The push ranges from a 24-hour TV channel in Australia and New Zealand to a venture in Africa, Chief Executive Officer Shane Smith said at a news conference. Vice will also work with Groupe V Media to launch the Viceland channel in Quebec and French-speaking Canada.

The deals will "significantly" increase Vice's international footprint, "ushering in new audiences, new revenue streams across production, licensing and advertising, and new local studios and channels," the company said in a statement.

Vice, which has evolved from a music magazine for punk rockers to an outlet with online and TV content, has been seeking influence beyond the U.S. for its immersive investigative journalism and lifestyle programming. As cable brands like MTV and A&E have surrendered viewers, Mr. Smith has convinced his investors -- including Walt Disney and 21st Century Fox -- that Vice has a hold on the millennials who have traded in cable for Netflix and Snapchat.

A partnership with the Times of India Group will see Vice start production and editorial operations in the country of 1.3 billion people this year, the company said. Vice will start Viceland as a pay-TV network in India and will also create brand-sponsored content for the local market.

In February, the company started Viceland in the U.S., featuring programs including music show "Noisey" and "Weediquette" about cannabis culture. The channel is a partnership with A&E Networks, the owner of Lifetime and the History Channel. Vice already has deals to air content in much of Europe including an agreement with U.K.-based pay-TV operator Sky Plc and France's Canal Plus.

Other partnerships announced Wednesday include with Moby Group in the Middle East as well as SBS Australia, Sky New Zealand and Multi Channels Asia. With Moby, Vice will open local production studios across the Middle East, including North Africa.

"An independent management team will provide creative stewardship to ensure Vice remains on brand, whilst adapting to the region's nuances and sensitivities to develop relevant content for the region's audiences," the company said.

Vice's early backer was Viacom. It has also produced a news show and documentaries for HBO in recent years. Vice was valued at $4 billion by the end of 2015.

-- Bloomberg News

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