Vice to Launch TV Channels in U.S., Europe

CEO Shane Smith says there’s currently a bidding war between Netflix, ITV, Sky and Discovery to partner with Vice for European channels

Vice plans to launch TV channels in the U.S. and Europe, CEO Shane Smith said on Friday.

While speaking to CNBC, he wouldn’t reveal who the media company plans on partnering with in the U.S., but it’s been reported that Vice will team with A+E Networks.

In an interview with the Guardian, Smith said there’s several potential partners, including Netflix, ITV, Sky and Discovery.

“There is a bit of a bidding war going on,” he said. “In the U.K. there are potentially a number of partners. There are lots of deals on the table. It’s pretty fast and furious.”

Smith said some potential partners have proposed wide-scale deals crossing an array of countries, but Vice rejects that approach.

“Is it better to do separate deals in each country, or a three or four country deal with one company,” Smith said. “Then we have to think do we want a joint venture, do we buy a network ourselves, or do we partner.”

He said negotiations have occurred at a slower pace than he’d like, but making sure TV deals include mobile, digital and OTT (over the top) is key.

“The problem is we want to include mobile, online and OTT… but the old-school TV guard pays lip service to doing everything but they don’t like simultaneous windows [with other partners or on other platforms],” Smith said. “We are trying to navigate those waters.”

He concluded that potential partners aren’t limited to high-profile platforms like Netflix. Local channels like U.K.’s Channel 4 are being considered.

“We are talking to all of them,” Smith said. “The best deal could be a terrestrial player in one market. It could be a cocktail. A pan-European mobile deal and a TV partner. Although the pan-European guys with the money do make it difficult for the domestic guys to compete. But we are taking a long-game approach.”