Vice Media just launched its own cable channel, Viceland, in partnership with A+E Networks, at the end of February, and now its partnering with another cable channel, ESPN, on a programming initiative.
Vice Media and ESPN announced today that they will be teaming to produce new original series to air exclusively on ESPN platforms across linear TV, digital and mobile. In turn, ESPN will be providing select films from its “30 for 30” documentary series to air on Viceland.
The corporate bedfellows are not as strange as they might seem at first glance. ESPN is owned by Disney, Disney is one of the biggest stakeholders in Vice (to the tune of $400 million), and A+E, Vice’s partner in Viceland, is a joint venture between Disney and Hearst.
As part of the deal, Vice Sports and ESPN Films will create new short-form series to run across both ESPN and Vice properties. According to a press release announcing the deal, the shows in development “will take audiences around the world to look at dominant athletes, fascinating characters and championship events that reside outside the mainstream.” Vice and ESPN are also developing a short-form animated series.
Select Vice Sports series, including original episodes of “The Clubhouse,” will air on ESPN’s linear and digital channels, including WatchESPN. ESPN will also feature digital cutdowns of the Viceland show “Vice World of Sports,” which premiered on April 27, after episodes premiere on Viceland, and full episodes of “Vice World of Sports” will air on ESPN properties.
“Growing up watching ESPN, I came to love the brand and their content. Maybe a little too much,” ” said Shane Smith, co-founder and CEO of Vice Media, in a statement. “The amount of manly tears shed over various ’30 for 30’’s throughout the years has been nothing short of embarrassing.”
“Evoking manly tears from Shane Smith is no small task, and I take immense pride in that,” added John Skipper, president of ESPN, Inc. and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. “Shane and the team at Vice do an extraordinary job presenting stories through their own, very unique lens — and working with them will help to bring a new perspective to our storytelling. I am confident that the content borne out of this collaboration will be a win for fans of ESPN, Vice and storytelling in general. And I applaud Shane for understanding that television is the smartest path to worldwide leadership.”