These Companies See the Virtues of Vice

By Chris Ariens Comment

vice21st Century Fox already owns a piece of Vice, last week news trickled out that Time Warner was interested in a deal that could see Vice replace HLN, and now there’s word Disney is interested in the news and entertainment juggernaut.

The NYTimes talks with Vice CEO Shane Smith about his desire to take the brand, which consists of dozens of hours of programming for YouTube channels, several websites, and a weekly half-hour HBO show, to TV.

“It’s the next step in our evolution,” Smith says. “Our mobile and online stuff is going to grow exponentially, but we want a three-legged stool, and the third leg is TV.”

Vice has the strongest relationship with Fox, which last year bought a 5 percent stake in the company for $70 million. James Murdoch is on Vice’s board. But a Fox deal faces hurdles, too. The company does not have a logical single channel to give Vice, which is what Mr. Smith most wants. “You can’t be MTV without a TV network,” he said.

An agreement might instead call for Vice to program blocks of time on a few Fox networks. And, of course, Fox’s defining news brand, Fox News, is not popular among Vice’s core audience.