TV Upfront

Vice TV Network Has Already Sold Three Years' Worth of Ad Time, CEO Says

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Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith.
Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith. Credit: Christopher Lane for Ad Age

Vice Media has rung up a series of impressive deals in the past year or so, lining up a $250 million investment from A&E Networks, securing another $250 million from Silicon Valley's Technology Crossover Ventures, signing a pact with HBO to take its news show to 35 episodes a year from 14, forging a Vice TV network in Canada with Rogers Communications and now realizing its dream of a U.S. TV network with a planned takeover of A&E Networks' History Channel spinoff H2. (You can see why Vice CEO Shane Smith felt flush enough to spend $300,000 on one Las Vegas feast.)

But there's one more deal of note, for commercial time in the nascent Vice TV network, as Mr. Smith told The New York Times:

... Vice has effectively presold all of the ad spots to two of the biggest advertising agencies for the first three years, Mr. Smith said.

That's right: As TV networks and media buyers get ready to begin the high-stakes upfront negotiations for ad time in just the 2015-16 TV season, Vice says it has already "effectively" locked in deals for all its commercial time for three seasons. This, before the TV network even exists.

If the commitment is as described, it says a lot about advertisers' desperation to meet the young men that Vice reaches. Especially after the soft upfront market last summer, it also shows marketers' continued interest in TV, as long as they believe it can give them the audience they want.