Vice Gets a Big Investment to Produce More Video
Vice Media just landed a $450 million investment from private equity firm TPG that the millennial-focused digital media company will use to develop scripted programming and streaming video.
The deal also reportedly boosts Vice’s valuation to $5.7 billion, according to multiple reports, though the companies did not disclose the size of TPG’s minority stake in Vice. The Brooklyn-based media company already counts Walt Disney and 21st Century Fox as minority owners, and Disney’s most recent investment valued Vice at more than $4 billion, in 2015. News of TPG’s investment follows reports last month that Vice was seeking another funding round that would boost the company’s value and potentially pave the way for an eventual initial public offering. (There was also speculation last year that Disney may try to acquire Vice outright, but those rumors have died down of late.)
Vice said on Monday that it would put TPG’s investment toward building subscription streaming and direct-to-consumer video services to complement the company’s existing video found on Vice’s various digital channels as well as the Viceland cable network. Vice, which also produces daily and weekly news shows for Time Warner’s HBO, will also use the new investment to help fund its push into scripted programming.
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The company is launching Vice Studios, a “global multi-platform scripted studio” aimed at developing original content that Vice can market around the world after the company signed content deals earlier this year to make its programming available in more than 80 territories by the end of the year.
While Vice already produces a wide range of news and reality programs for Viceland, HBO, and online, the media company has also been preparing for a bigger push into scripted content. Last year, Vice took a majority stake in U.K. production studio Pulse Films and the company said earlier this year that Viceland had ordered six episodes of a scripted comedy series from actor James Van Der Beek and musician/DJ Diplo, called What Would Diplo Do? In addition to longer-form programming, Vice also made a recent deal with popular messaging service Snapchat to produce multiple short-form original series for the social platform.
After premiering in February 2016, the Viceland network (part of a partnership between Vice and the A+E Network) has had disappointing ratings while failing to capture even similar viewership levels of the network it replaced, History Channel spin-off H2. Earlier this year, Vice noted that the cable network’s viewership has been growing slowly, though it still averaged just 60,000 primetime viewers aged 18-49 in the year’s first quarter. Adding a wider variety of programming, in the form of scripted shows, could help the network attract more viewers.
In a statement, Vice founder and CEO Shane Smith said the launch of Vice Studios would allow the company to “build up the largest millennial video library in the world—enabling Vice to widen our offering to include; news, food, music, fashion, art, travel, gaming, lifestyle, scripted and feature films.” Smith also noted that “networks have to be nimble, smart, and fast-moving” in the midst of a rapidly-evolving landscape for digital media in which companies like Facebook and Google dominate the market for online advertising.