Viceland gets ready to invade TV
Vice’s youth-culture charge heads towards the cable channel market
The launch of Viceland is near, and the trailer for Vice’s new 24-hour cable channel makes most other outlets’ programming look lame. The channel, which launches at the end of February, will cap advertising at eight minutes per hour, and will take over the H2 channel, owned by the A+E Network.
Vice has gone from a cult magazine to a media company valued at $2.5 billion, incorporating the original magazine, websites, a news agency that focuses most notably on documentaries, a small book publishing outlet and a record label. But above all of that, at 22 years old, it arguably offers the clearest voice on youth culture in media today.
Vice’s mix of astute cultural commentary, aching irony, exploration of subcultures, and a hint of outrageousness stands up thanks to the quality of its output. It’s intrinsic knowledge of youth culture, issues and trends, it’s coolness, it’s credibility, and it’s access to and understanding of presenters that appeal to its audience mean that, as a television channel, you’d imagine other channels and programme-makers will be playing serious catch-up with its TV shows, which are already winning Emmys on HBO. So, what to expect? Fuck,
That’s Delicious, presented by Action Bronson, features in the trailer, and that’s already arguably one of the best cookery shows in the world. Ellen Page is on board for Gaycation, examining LGBT issues across the globe. The terribly named Balls
Deep presented by Thomas Morton will be “sort of like a foreign-exchange programme, but for subcultures instead of countries”. A documentary on Compton features Kendrick Lamar. Another on carjacking in New Jersey is presented by Michael K Williams, best known for his portrayal of Omar in The
Wire. Weediquette is a show dedicated to marijuana; Mother
board examines technology and futurism.
Vice’s documentary strand has always offered its most interesting content. And it’ll be those elements of danger – covering subjects other networks won’t touch, and tapping into what young people actually want to watch – that people will expect from Viceland. You’d also have to imagine that while running a 24-hour television network is almost old-fashioned in the era of Netflix and Amazon Prime, it’ll also open up production opportunities for new talent and new points of view.
Creative director of Viceland Spike Jonze with Balls Deep host Thomas Morton