VICE GRIP: Vice Media is continuing to expand — this time with HBO.
This story first appeared in the March 27, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Brooklyn-based media company said Thursday that it inked a four-year extension of its existing deal with the cable channel, and that as part of the deal, it will up its current programming and add a daily newscast. That newscast will consist of five half-hour shows a week, 48 weeks a year, and feature “original on-the-ground reporting,” but in a daily format, the company said.
In order to accomplish that, it will tap into its network of more than 30 global bureaus to help churn out content. It will also begin staffing up. The rapidly growing company currently employs about 400 people, and it anticipates hiring 525 new employees in the next five years. That hiring spree will likely take shape later this year when Vice moves to its 60,000-square-foot office, which is a brisk walk from its current, more centrally located headquarters in Williamsburg.
As part of the HBO deal, Vice’s weekly series has been renewed for four more years, and it will increase its program from 14 episodes to 35 episodes a year. Vice will also produce 32 specials for HBO through 2018. One example of such is its 40-minute “Killing Cancer” special report, which aired last month.
All of this will soon be able to be viewed on a Vice-branded channel on the HBO Now streaming service for HBO subscribers.
HBO declined to reveal the financial terms of the deal, which signifies a continued push in documentaries, or Vice’s allotted budget, but Vice’s chief executive officer Shane Smith hinted at its significance. “This deal, simply put, allows Vice the freedom to go after any story, anywhere we find it — and to do so with complete independence. This deal is a tremendous gift and a tremendous opportunity, and we at Vice realize this,” Smith said.
He expounded on the perils of rapid expansion — something Vice is in the process of doing since it received an infusion of $500 million from minority investors in the fall, by adding: “I think the first thing, perhaps the hardest thing, I learned about journalism over the past 20 years is that maintaining any type of independence, any type of freedom, is difficult as you scale up.”