Vice Media plans India launch in major global expansion

Vice Media is to launch in India as the youth-oriented media company targets "the largest millennial population in the world" as part of a major push to 50 new countries and an expansion in TV.

The Vice/Times of India team in Cannes
The Vice/Times of India team in Cannes

Shane Smith, the co-founder and chief executive of Vice Media, said at Cannes Lions that the news and culture company will launch a TV channel in India in early 2017 as well as online, on mobile and in print.

Vice is setting up a joint venture with The Times of India, which will take a majority stake, although the intention is for Vice to become an equal partner. 

Smith is also rolling out Vice in Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and Asia. He claimed a previous online expansion, which was planned for 12 countries in 12 months, happened much faster in 44 countries in four months.

"Millennials are coming back to TV," said Smith, who claimed that expanding Vice’s TV channel, Viceland, was encouraging more millennials aged 16 to 34 to watch TV and that viewing in this demographic remains strong despite the rise of online and mobile.

"The actual demo that people say is leaving TV is coming back to TV because of our demo."

He added that TV remains the "predominant" advertising medium in most countries around the world. 

"Why wouldn’t we want to be on TV?" he said. "We believe we should be on all screens. We want to be wherever our audience is."

Smith maintained Viceland was innovative as it was doing fewer, traditional 30-second spots and its Vice Labs division is working with brands to make bespoke content that could "wrap" around programmes.

"We’re making our own media [with brands] that wraps the actual show."

He described it as "a derivative of online" by taking the native advertising model on the web and mobile and transferring it to TV where it could make more money.

"We have to make advertising as compelling as the content itself," he added, to tackle challenges such as online ad-blocking and TV ad-skipping. "The 30-second spot is problematic. Everybody knows we have to go to a different model."

Vice will open an office in Mumbai. Vineet Jain, managing director of the Times of India Group, said, "Vice brings in a certain edginess and boldness to covering stories that the Indian market has not seen."


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