Ready for a Vice Talk Show? Vice News to Develop Scheduled Live Shows With Skype

Weighing Two Talk Show Formats to Involve Its Audience

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Vice News has gained attention with long live feeds from Ferguson, Mo., but is now moving to also schedule live programming online.
Vice News has gained attention with long live feeds from Ferguson, Mo., but is now moving to also schedule live programming online.

Vice's news division continues to invade traditional media's turf.

Vice News has a struck a deal with Skype to use the Microsoft-owned messaging service to stream live video broadcasts on its YouTube channel. Eventually that will include the seven-month-old news organization's first live scheduled programs.

"We're in development on multiple formats that we're going to be programming on a regular schedule," said Vice News General Manager Sterling Proffer. "What I can say right now is it's definitely going to involve ways to break down the fourth wall and invite the audience into the conversation to bring them closer to the stories we're covering and give them more access to the people who make it happen."

Skype is paying Vice News to use its technology as part of the deal. Mr. Proffer declined to discuss the terms.

With more than 950,000 subscribers, Vice News' YouTube channel is currently a mix of produced docuseries and raw livestreams. It has also gotten a part in YouTube's ongoing marketing blitz. But in the past couple of months, the channel has earned additional attention for its on-the ground, off-the-cuff coverage of protests in Ferguson, Mo., and, more recently, Hong Kong. That sometimes unpolished, sometimes visceral coverage is in keeping with Vice's insurgent reputation. Its latest plans align with its ambitions to rival traditional media giants.

Vice News is still hammering out the specifics of its live scheduled programming but is weighing a couple options. One would be a weekly talk show with a Vice News reporter answering questions over Skype from a global audience. Another would be a roundtable debate-style talk show conducted via Skype. Both would resemble traditional newscast formats but with a digital twist, as The Huffington Post has done with HuffPost Live.

Vice has repeatedly shown an appetite for connecting its new-media DNA with more mainstream outlets. Originally a print magazine first published in 1994, the company won an Emmy in August for its HBO documentary series. And last month Vice raised $500 million from A&E Networks and investment firm Technology Crossover Ventures.

Given that all of the Skype-powered broadcasts will stream on Vice News's YouTube channel, the organization could have opted to use YouTube's live-streaming technology and Google+ Hangouts on Air. But financial and other considerations pointed to Skype.

"From a technical standpoint, they have a really sophisticated back-end live production suite that will allow us to have our boots on the ground around the world to contribute and be able to bring audiences into that conversation live with a capacity that wouldn't have otherwise been possible without diving into crazy control rooms," Mr. Proffer said.

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