Vice's TV launch on Sky shows old media still pays

The irreverent media company is moving into traditional TV broadcasting.

by Rebecca Smith
Last Updated: 23 Mar 2016

Well, well, well. Millennial favourite Vice Media has announced it’s launching Viceland, a 24-hour TV channel on Sky and Sky’s online streaming service Now TV this September. This’ll form part of an expansion strategy to launch 12 TV channels across Europe over an 18-month period (Viceland is already running in the US and Canada, while Vice has another show on HBO).

That’s not quite right is it? Aren't we supposed to be on a one-way conveyor belt from traditional media to swanky, on-demand streaming services? Mintel recently said UK streaming video subscription revenues were on course to soar from £437m to £1.17bn between 2014 and 2019 as user numbers more than double. Why would Vice, which positions itself as an achingly trendy hotspot for the younger demographic, move into the traditional linear space?

Well, because TV in its long-established form is far from dead and disruption isn’t always a one way street. There can be a tendency to suggest once a trend is identified, that automatically means the old way of doing things is as good as six feet under, but that’s often not the case. Sky after all, generates more than £1bn free cash annually and that comes from subscriptions and ads.

And just look at the recent Amazon news. The ecommerce behemoth has apparently got 400 physical bookshops in the works. It evidently sees something uniquely valuable in the experience bricks and mortar stores can provide. 

Then you have supermarkets branching out to sell more in the way of physical media. That’s in spite of online gaming, digital downloads and streaming services giving rise to proclamations of the impending death of CDs, DVDs and the like. Of course, that’s not to say drooping physical sales will be reversible, but rather that there’s a place for traditional spaces and players while all this disruption takes place.

The closure of The Independent's print operations and BBC Three's much-maligned move to online only have stirred up discussion of whether the general media's move to digital is all but imminent. Vice's move says not. Its bread and butter audience is, after all, the 16-34 age group which is reportedly moving away from linear TV. This tie-up shows it’s not that black and white. Just because younger audiences are moving towards on-demand content doesn’t mean that’s all they’re watching or will watch.

Vice already has commercial links with Sky. Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch, has a 39% stake in Sky and a 5% stake in Vice.

Of course, the success of Vice’s channel remains to be seen – though surely curiosity will be piqued with programming including Gaycation, Weediquette, Balls Deep and F*ck, That's Delicious – a cooking show presented by rapper and former chef Action Bronson. Millennial catnip? We'll soon see.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

A mini case study in horizon scanning

Swissgrid has instituted smart risk management systems for spotting things that could go wrong before...

Interview ghosting: Stop treating job seekers like bad dates

Don’t underestimate the business impact of a simple rejection letter.

5 avoidable corporate disasters

And the lessons to learn from them.

Dressing to impress: One for the dustbin of history?

Opinion: Businesswomen are embracing comfort without sacrificing impact. Returning to the office shouldn't change that....

How to motivate people from a distance

Recognising success in a remote or hybrid environment requires a little creativity, says Insight SVP...

What pushy fish can teach you about influence at work

Research into marine power struggles casts light on the role of influence and dominant bosses...