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Vice Will Take Over A+E Networks’ H2 Next Year, Rebranding It as Viceland

Long-delayed revamp set after DirecTV carriage deal was done

Vice's Shane Smith and A+E Networks' Nancy Dubuc are joining forces to revamp H2. Getty Images

Better late than never: The long-awaited deal for Vice Media to take over A+E Networks' H2 network, which many expected to be announced last spring, was finalized today.

As expected, Vice will take over History offshoot H2—which will now be called Viceland—beginning early next year.

The new channel, aimed at Vice's audience of young millennial males, will feature hundreds of hours of programming developed in-house by Vice. 

"Vice has a bold voice and a distinctive model in the marketplace. This channel represents a strategic fit and a new direction for the future of our portfolio of media assets. Shane Smith has led Vice from a fledgling magazine into a global media brand and all of us at A+E are excited to work with him and his passionate and innovative team," said Nancy Dubuc, A+E Networks president and CEO, in a statement.

The H2 deal had reportedly been held up by A+E and DirecTV's carriage talks, which were finalized late Monday.

Spike Jonze, Vice Media's creative director, will also serve as creative director of Viceland. The new network will launch with Vice-produced shows including Gaycation (with Ellen Page), Huang's World (with Eddie Huang), Black Market (with Michael K. Williams) and Vice World of Sports.

"This network is the next step in the evolution of our brand and the first step in our global roll-out of networks around the world," said Shane Smith, Vice co-founder and CEO, in a statement. "First: It allows us to be truly platform agnostic and enable our audience to view our content wherever they want. Second: It represents a continued growth in our content quality and raises the ceiling even higher for our brilliant teams to attack stories from long form features to multi-episode series and even short form  interstitials that will challenge the accepted norms of current TV viewing. Third: We will test new and innovative monetization strategies placing Viceland at the pointy tip of the spear of the rapidly changing terrain of TV advertising."

A+E will oversee technical operations, while Vice will handle marketing across all platforms. The companies will work together on ad sales and sponsorships. 

Vice has been expected to rebrand an A+E Networks channel since August 2014, when A+E acquired a 10 percent stake in Vice Media for $250 million. Previously, Vice had been in talks with Time Warner for that company to buy a majority stake.

News of a Vice-H2 deal intensified in April, with buyers and execs anticipating that A+E Networks would unveil the news at its April 30 upfront. But during her upfront presentation to advertisers and buyers, Dubuc was mum on news of a deal

A couple days later, at Vice's May 1 NewFronts presentation, Smith teased that the company would have "a new channel this fall."

But news dried up after that. In September, A+E Networks shook up History, replacing Dirk Hoogstra with FYI and LMN president Jana Bennett, giving her oversight over History and H2. "History and H2 will greatly benefit from her creative prowess and steady stewardship," said Dubuc, who made no mention of Vice.

Talks of a deal reignited two weeks ago when Smith told CNBC that Vice would be launching a TV network in the U.S. next year, along with a dozen in Europe. He didn't say who the company's U.S. partner would be.

In addition to taking over H2, Vice will be increasing its TV presence on HBO, where it has a weekly documentary series. Beginning next year, Vice will produce a nightly news show for HBO. The show will be overseen by Josh Tyrangiel, former chief content officer at Bloomberg.

H2, which A+E launched in 1996, reaches more than 70 million households.

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