Vice Gets Its Very Own TV Network, in Canada

Joint Venture With Rogers Will Also Yield a Production Facility, Mobile Content

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Vice's series on HBO won an Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special.
Vice's series on HBO won an Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special. Credit: HBO

Rogers Communications is creating a joint venture with Vice Media to bring the millennial-focused news company's programming to Canadian smartphones and TV.

The companies are investing C$100 million ($89 million U.S.) in the partnership to establish the Vice TV network in Canada and to produce exclusive mobile content, according to a statement today. Rogers is a cable TV, internet and telephone service provider, and the deal adds to the stable of exclusive content Rogers can offer to its subscribers. Last year, it signed a C$5.2 billion, 12-year contract to show NHL hockey in Canada. The Toronto-based company also plans to debut an online streaming service called Shomi, a joint venture with Shaw Communications, in November.

Rogers CEO Guy Laurence has been teasing an upcoming "big announcement" for the last week. He took over the company in December, vowing to improve customer experiences with Canada's largest wireless carrier.

Aspects of the new deal, such as a new "Vice Canada" production studio and new mobile content, will debut in 2015, Rogers said. There is no arrival date for the TV network to share yet, a Rogers spokesman said.

Vice has exploded from its start as a street-inspired magazine in Montreal to a $2.5 billion Brooklyn-based global online media empire, with a show on HBO and partnerships with CNN and The Guardian. The company raised $500 million in September to expand onto mobile devices and develop a 24-hour news network.

In October, Vice CEO Shane Smith said he was looking at ways to generate more revenue from smartphones and tablets. It's also considering producing more programming for traditional television.

Online video is the core of Vice's business. The company distributes content made in-house on its own websites, as well as YouTube channels, and produces a show for Time Warner's HBO. While getting people to watch mobile video has been easy, making money off of it has been a challenge, Mr. Smith said.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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