On Monday, Vice Media announced it has raised $450 million in investment from private-equity firm TPG. Shane Smith, CEO of Vice Media, told CNBC the new funding puts the media company’s valuation just under $6 billion.
The big monetary resources will let Vice grow, allowing it to build “the largest millennial video library in the world... [including] news, food, music, fashion, art, travel, gaming, lifestyle, scripted and feature films,” Smith says.
Currently, two of Vice Media's highest-profile media assets are its basic cable channel, Viceland, and its continuing news/documentary programming on HBO. Vice programming is also in 80 countries.
Early investors in Vice include 21st Century Fox, A+E Networks and Walt Disney. A+E has a joint venture with Vice Media for its Viceland channel, formerly A+E’s H2 channel.
As for Vice Media’s media competitor with traditional roots in cable? Viacom is an obvious candidate. At Tuesday’s close, Viacom had a market capitalization of $14.1 billion -- more than twice the private-equity valuation of Vice Media currently.
Smith told CNBC he has no immediate plans for an IPO.
“Our revenue story is getting better and better. But it has to be more consistent,” he said. He noted the company was looking more for the “hockey-stick” trend line.
Vice Media isn’t alone. Many digital-media companies, including those with YouTube channels, want to be in the same space. At the same time, big companies like Viacom want to transform themselves.
In addition to its edgy content -- and to appeal to younger viewers -- Smith says Viceland’s goal has been to limit advertising to only 10 minutes of commercial advertising per hour. Many cable networks air well above this level, from 15 to 17 minutes per hour.
So where is the monetization with less advertising?
Early thinking was that Viceland would create special sponsorship/marketing deals. The jury is still out here. Smith says: “We are also looking at transactional -- direct to consumer [businesses]. And if we are going direct to consumer, we need to build a much bigger library.”
No traditional media company wants to be left behind when it comes to grabbing the next generation of adults TV viewers. So if Vice Media has figured out the monetization of targeting millennials, they want in.
But are there any lessons to be learned -- in the short-term -- when it comes to traditional TV companies drastically cutting back on advertising to keep young viewers?