Vice Almost Landed at 60 Minutes, But Chose HBO

Digital news exec talks TV at PTTOW confab

Speaking today at the PTTOW conference in Los Angeles, Vice chief creative officer Eddy Moretti revealed that his media brand chose HBO over CBS in 2012 for a few four-lettered reasons. Moretti said that before HBO, Vice founder Shane Smith had an offer from CBS for its 60 Minutes program, and almost went with that network.

"Then these guys [HBO] called, and the conversation changed because they said we could swear," Moretti explained.

It probably turned out to be a wise decision because Vice just signed for another two seasons with HBO.

The exec discussed Vice's broad ambitions during PTTOW (pronounced puh-tow), which is an eclectic group of about 300 marketing, technology, media and investment executives who meet yearly for TED-style inspirational talks and youth-focused thinktanks. PTTOW members include Clear Channel chief Bob Pittman, GE CMO Beth Comstock, Red Bull marketing lead Amy Taylor and Pepsi CMO Frank Cooper. 

Vice is making the unorthodox journey from magazine to digital to linear, Moretti said, a sort of reverse migration in this day and age, by packaging its online content into TV shows. He flashed a quote of his across the screen during the presentation: "We didn't need TV to validate our existence, but it has."

In a multiple-screen era, media brands strive to be everywhere. So when Vice crafts deals with other media brands for its guerilla-style news programs, Moretti said, the negotiations rely on being able to distribute anywhere.

Vice revealed several shows at its NewFronts last week, including Fresh Off The Boat, Motherboard and Toxic. Today, Moretti said some of the programs are close to being picked up, with possible TV deals in the works, although he wouldn't disclose which networks were involved.