New Vice cable channel needs to clear DirecTV
A+E Networks is ready to move forward its new Vice cable channel, but it still needs to make a deal with satellite video provider DirecTV to carry it.
A lighted sign with the graffiti-like Vice logo hung high on the wall of the capacious Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan where A+E Networks held its advertiser upfront presentation on Thursday evening. Vice Media founder Shane Smith, who was in attendance, even got a congratulatory shout out from a member of the band Fall Out Boy, the entertainment at the event.
But there was no Vice announcement as many had expected. People familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter said the proposed channel would not move forward until A+E and DirecTV could come to terms on a carriage agreement. Talks between both sides were going on right up until shortly before the advertiser presentation.
DirecTV is one of the largest video providers in the country, with more than 20 million subscribers. Without it, a new Vice channel would have trouble attracting national advertisers. Other major cable and satellite video providers, such as Comcast, have signed on.
Spokespersons for A+E Networks and Vice Media would not comment on the status of the proposed channel. A DirecTV spokesperson could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
Vice would take over the channel space currently used for H2, the A+E Networks channel that currently airs historical documentary programs.
Last year A+E Networks took a 10% stake in Vice Media for $250 million. The new Vice cable channel would be added to a portfolio that includes A&E, fyi, Lifetime and History.
The new channel will not be a news service and will mostly carry Vice’s “lifestyle” content that focuses on travel, food, sports, gaming, fashion and music.
In a separate deal, Vice is producing its own daily news program for HBO that is slated to start in the fall. Vice Media already supplies a weekly news magazine show to the premium cable service.
Vice has become a hot property because of its appeal to young viewers who are not drawn to traditional TV as a source of news and information. Executives at A+E Networks are touting the Vice channel as a way to deter millennials from cord-cutting, which has become a growing concern for the cable and satellite business.
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