Viceland, Vice Media’s sortie from online video into linear TV, has an extra challenge in Asia: conforming to local sensibilities while staying true to the Vice brand.
Executives from regional distributor Multi Channels Asia (MCA) – working on a localized version of the lifestyle channel for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan – have spent the last couple of months selecting appropriate shows from Vice’s library.
Viceland is making landfall in the region October 7 via a Friday-night branded block on Outdoor Channel, MCA’s sports offering skewed to younger males.
It’s a way to introduce the brand and showcase the content to viewers in Southeast Asia, ahead of a channel launch early next year, explains MCA’s MD, Gregg Creevey.
“It’s going to focus on social and global and lifestyle issues,” he says.
“It will have an edge to it, so that it’s relevant, but it will be absolutely appropriate for Asia.”
Once the channel is launched, Creevey wants to add third party programming – another challenge, as Vice prides itself on its distinctive content – as well as commission original shows for Southeast Asia.
He also wants to try out different approaches to advertising, blurring the lines between programs and the ad breaks for example, following the channel’s lead in the US.
The initial focus is on getting the content in place, although other Viceland hallmarks, including a slant towards branded content coupled with shorter commercial breaks, are under consideration.
A dedicated ad sales executive selling Viceland in the region should be in place next month, with more details on programming and channel strategy to follow later in the year.
“Viceland doesn’t look like any other linear channel out there,” Creevey tells Media Business Asia.
“It has a very different feel and a very different flow. Part of the reason for that is their approach to advertising.”
Launch in Southeast Asia is part of a bigger rollout for Viceland, with APAC deals also in place for Australia (with SBS), India (Times Group) and New Zealand (Sky TV).
Vice itself, known for its freewheeling news reporting (resulting in a programming deal with HBO) as well as genre-specific online verticals, has local offices in the region in Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand.
Ratings success for Viceland opens up another outlet to monetize Vice’s content, at potentially higher rates than online.
Vice has also inked linear distribution deals in Africa and Europe, following Viceland’s debut in North America earlier this year, via JVs in the US (majority owned by A+E) and Canada (majority owned by Rogers).