The hipster media brand is looking to strike deals in the UK that are similar to its partnership with HBO in the US to broadcast a magazine-style news show and its content deal to broadcast programmes on three German channels.
Andrew Creighton, CEO of Vice Media, says: “Our ambition now isn’t to be the cool thing in Shoreditch, it’s to be the number one digital media network for young people in the world today.”
“We’d like to package up our content for broadcasters. I’d like to work with Channel 4, I think we share a lot of things in common with them,” he adds.
Vice’s main revenue driver is its online video content, rather than its magazine, which now only drives 5% of its income, compared to about 80% five years ago, says Creighton. Much of the programming is advertiser-funded by brands such as Intel, Mini and Marshall.
The media network recently launched new website Vice.com as its central hub for its merchandise and video and editorial content.
The company is opening new offices globally that will all house dozens of production suites as it looks to grow its video portal and invite more “brave” partner brands to produce alternative programming to the mainstream.
Creighton says: “The content made for young people today is fundamentally not good enough. It’s the lowest common denominator, trashy, celebrity garbage. We want to work with the best partners in the world to produce content that gives entertainment context and news a jolt in the arm.”
He adds that Vice still chooses the brands it works with carefully as it grows, to ensure it does not alienate its key followers, who may feel the niche hipster-focused brand has sold out.
“The question of ’sell out’ is old language, it depends what you do with the money. We are going to reinvest it back in the content we are making. When we were small we couldn’t afford to go to North Korea and report, but as we grow we will employ more correspondents and produce more quality, creative content,” he says.
Vice recently signed a deal with The Guardian to share content on both of their sites, as it looks to reach new audiences and establish new revenue streams through pre-roll advertising.
Creighton says Vice hopes to add “another layer of expertise and youthful vigour” to the Guardian site by having its content available on it.
Vice is also investing heavily in its free magazine this year and will increase pagination and improve the paper quality in order to make the product feel like an “art piece”. Creighton says whether the company will get a return on this investment is “debatable”.