Is Viceland the future of television journalism?
Vice Media is re-imagining the nature of broadcasting and television advertising for the millennials in a risky endeavor
A year ago, Rogers announced a three-year $100 million content, studio and distribution partnership with Vice Media to produce daily news and long-form content like documentaries on food, fashion, technology and sports. Yesterday, this become a reality as the official trailer for the 24-hour specialty channel Viceland was released.
Set to launch in winter 2016 on TV, mobile and online, many are hailing Viceland as the way to bring millennials back to broadcast journalism and television viewing. The content is catering specifically to Generation Y, with variety shows like Gaycation with Ellen Page and Ian Daniel, a food show “Huang’s World,” a music show “Noisey” and a sports show “Vice World of Sports” among many others.
But, to put it bluntly, will it succeed?
“It feels like most channels are just a collection of shows,” said Spike Jonze, writer, director and overseer of the development of the channel in a press release.
We wanted VICELAND to be different, to feel like everything on there has a reason to exist and a strong point of view. Our mission with the channel is not that different from what our mission is as a company: it’s us trying to understand the world we live in by producing pieces about things we’re curious about, or confused about, or that we think are funny. And if it doesn’t have a strong point of view then it shouldn’t be on this channel.
The other element of this channel is the re-imaging of television advertising. Representatives of Vice have voiced a desire to change the way TV is monetized through the practice of native advertising, as already seen in their digital video content.
However, the launch of a specialty TV channel, at a time when millennials are increasingly turning away from it, seems to be a risky endeavor. The popularity of Netflix says so at least, where you watch what you like without without advertisements.
At the same time, there is an argument to be made about quality content. It seems that, along with other broadcast publishers like Netflix, HBO and now Vice, there is a move to make content king again in a world increasingly distracted by everything social media. The popularity of figures like Jon Stewart and John Oliver–in comparison to anchors of broadcast news, for instance–illustrates the different way millennials consume news, a trend that Viceland seems to encapsulate.
There’s also a question as to whether the Vice audience is a niche audience and, if so, whether it’s big enough to sustain this channel on a daily basis.
by Fatima Syed
Fatima Syed is the blog editor of the spring 2016 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.