Vice News: A 'Cool' TV News Biz Story Gone Cold

Vice News -- the core business under the mothership of Vice Media -- has been hit by massive layoffs of some 100 journalists and closure of its website, in the midst of a bankruptcy filing for its parent Vice Media.

An examination of what went wrong for this company -- which had more than a $5 billion valuation at one time -- points to hubris and daredevil efforts from its founder and executive chairman Shane Smith to keep the business afloat, according to a recent report.

In addition, veteran C-suite executives were looking to make a calculated bet on the next big thing: A young-skewing "cool" TV news operation.

Executives from Fox Corp. (Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch) to Walt Disney (Bob Iger) as well as hedge-fund executives (Fortress Investment Group) buoyed the company with investments over the last ten years.



In 2013, with a valuation of $1.4 billion, 21st Century Fox made a $70 million investment for a 5% stake in Vice Media. 

Two years later, Disney made two investments -- of $200 million each. Disney, along with Hearst Corp., is a co-owner of A&E Networks.

Viceland, now Vice TV, launched in 2016, replacing A&E NetworkH2 -- a lifestyle content programmer.

In 2017, private equity firm TPG made a $450 million investment. TPG Capital was the company that helped spin off DirecTV from financial issues for majority owner AT&T.

Vice Media had a worth $350 million after its bankruptcy protection filing in May 2023, and Fortress Investment with other investors made a winning bid for the company.

In August 2019, Vice TV merged with Vice News, which then shifted more to news programming from lifestyle content.

Vice Media (and Vice TV) rose to prominence at precisely the wrong time as cord-cutting began to accelerate.

Cable TV networks -- even major established networks were heavily impacted by cord-cutting, resulting in lower distribution and advertising revenues as their subscriber and viewer numbers have declined.

Journalists were enthralled about working at Vice News -- a place where they could pursue the freedom few journalists have had. But did that bring in more viewers looking for that content?

That in itself should have been a warning -- that perhaps this new type of TV network/platform -- a young-skewing TV news/unscripted program channel -- was still an unproven genre.

Cord-cutting has been accelerating over the last ten years. In order to sustain growth, Vice Media needed to find continued external funding to keep things going.

Major media companies, already saddled with their own issues over their declining linear TV business, could not be counted on for future investment. Streaming is now its main focus, as is Vice TV -- which can be found on Hulu + Live TV, Philo and Sling TV, among others. 

1 comment about "Vice News: A 'Cool' TV News Biz Story Gone Cold".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ben B from Retired, March 1, 2024 at 11:22 p.m.

    Vice TV has interesting programs I like Dark Side Of Ring, and some of the spinoffs with Dark Side as well. Never was into the news part of Vice not surprised that ended cost them too much I did watch some of the news specials from time to time but didn't watch the news nightly.

Next story loading loading..