Viceland, Still Struggling After Four Years, Quietly Changes Its Name to Vice TV

An expanded hour-long live news series will return with the rebrand

The network formerly known as Viceland is now called Vice TV, but execs are trying to downplay the name change.
The network formerly known as Viceland is now called Vice TV, but the company is trying to downplay the name change. VICE

Vice News Tonight, the nightly news program from Vice Media, will return to television on March 4 at 8 p.m. as an hour-long live news series, but the show won’t air on Viceland. Instead, it will be broadcast on Vice TV, the newly rebranded version of the Viceland cable network.

In a press release Thursday, the company announced that Vice News Tonight, which had previously aired in a half-hour pre-taped format on Viceland, would now air in an expanded format on Vice TV. There was no indication of the name change in the release, and the company wouldn’t say anything on the record about the rebrand.

The unexpected, unexplained name change is the latest unusual move from the unconventional cable channel formerly known as Viceland. The channel first premiered to basic cable in February 2016 as a joint venture between the digital media company Vice Media and A+E Networks—and made quite a splash.

At the time, Vice founder and then-CEO Shane Smith famously told The Hollywood Reporter, “12 months from now we’ll be on the cover of Time magazine as the guys who brought millennials back to TV” with the network’s programming line-up of irreverent reality series and documentaries. On the advertising side, Viceland had plans to run fewer ads and focus on native advertising opportunities.

Overall, though, the channel now known as Vice TV has struggled to catch on and never found its footing. The property brought in meager ratings following its launch and in the years since, and has seen a number of changes, reboots and restarts.

In 2018, its most buzzed-about show Desus and Mero hopped to Showtime. The following year, the network reconfigured its primetime lineup around a two-hour nightly live show, Vice Live—only to pull the plug a month and a half later.

Last August, the cable channel reportedly trimmed staff in a move to further streamline operations and get the company on a path toward profitability. (Those staff cuts came several months after Vice Media laid off about 10% of its workforce.)

Update: The company noted that Vice News has just hired more than 20 new staffers for its reporting and production teams.

In terms of prestige, Vice News Tonight has been something of a bright spot for the company, twice bringing in a record number of Emmy nominations when the daily newscast aired on HBO. But after seven years on the premium cable channel, HBO nonetheless decided not to renew the program last year.

The show relocated to Viceland in August, landing a primetime spot before getting the expanded hour-long live slot announced this week. (Meanwhile, Vice’s weekly news series that also ran on HBO, Vice, will return to TV March 29, now airing on Showtime.)

In December, Vice Media president of global news and entertainment Jesse Angelo told the Hollywood Reporter that the channel was undergoing “an evolution, not a revolution” as it continued its pivot toward news content and away from lifestyle and entertainment programming.

The quiet rebrand for Viceland comes less than a year after Vice’s digital properties went under a rebrand of their own. During that change, standalone brands like Motherboard and Noisey were brought under the umbrella as dedicated verticals, and other sections including Broadly, Vice Sports and Waypoint were retired. At the time, Vice said the move would help give advertisers a more unified offering and would help streamline the editorial structure of the company.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.