‘HBO-Vice Deal Should Scare the S— Out of TV News’

By Mark Joyella 

Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein thinks the deal announced Thursday between Vice Media and HBO–which includes the creation of a Vice-produced daily newscast–presents a major threat to broadcast news. “It’s hard not to interpret this move as an invasion into one of TV’s most sacred wheelhouses: the evening newscast,” Wallenstein writes:

Even before Brian Williams’ career went up in flames at NBC last month, the 6:30 p.m. broadcast berth has looked very vulnerable to attack. The aging and dwindling of the audience tuning in at CBS, NBC and ABC has been hurting them for decades, taking along the cultural clout once enjoyed by these flagships for network news divisions.

That clout is what HBO could very well challenge with Vice. It’s not about taking away advertising dollars at a specific half-hour chunk of time, considering HBO is a premium channel. Besides, the demographic for Cialis and Ensure commercials is decades older than the one Vice has targeted with its brash brand of newsgathering.

And that’s why there’s something deliciously disruptive about the HBO-Vice deal. This isn’t about just another player coming to the table; it’s about the prospect of a bona fide game-changer.

Could HBO be nearing the moment when it has a defined news operation? Wallenstein thinks so, and points to part of the HBO-Vice deal that streams Vice content on the HBO Go platform–a potential threat to cable news.