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Upfront and Personal: VICE to add 20 networks, 6 digital channels

PerhapsVICE Media Inc.founder and CEO Shane Smith was channeling Iggy Pop. Or as Smith said, maybe hewas just a little tired.

Whateverthe case, Smith left quite the impression during his remarks to media buyers atVICE's recent newfront presentation at Pier 59 Studios, which he started whilelying down on stage, microphone in hand.

Amiddarkness, Smith began his brief remarks by saying "Everybody's going, 'What'shappening? Is there a technical glitch?' No."

Instead,the crowd discovered Smith, who noted he had indulged in "a few ales,"supine and profane, as he put his own colorful spin on the dog-and-pony aspectsof upfront and newfront presentations, where programmers vie for ad dollars.

"I'dlike to talk to you about VICE," he said. "Because that's what I do."

Ashe rose from the stage, Smith spoke of further linear and digital build-outsfor the youth-targeted media company.

Afterlaunching Viceland (US),a cable network hosting documentary-style fare that replaced H2 via ajoint-venture deal with A+ENetworks, Smith announced that VICE would launch up to 20 morelinear TV networks over the next year, a total that includes upcoming fallbows in France andthe U.K., with Canal Plus SAand Sky plc,respectively.

Theaccelerated launches, which a spokesman said would feature content that airs onthe North America-based channels and also include regionalized fare, promptedSmith to call Viceland the "fastest-growing network in the … history ofTV." New additions are expected across Asia and Europe.

VICE Media CEO performing at its 2016 newfront

Source: SaraWass/VICE

Backin the States, Smith said the shift from H2 to Viceland programming representedthe "fastest aging-down of a network in the history of television,"but did not supply specifics or ratings information. Nielsen also is notreleasing national ratings for Viceland for six months. Smith highlighted someof Viceland's programming such as "Huang's World," "States ofUndress," "Noisey," "Flophouse," and "Weediquette"during the presentation.

Sinceit assumed H2's channel position, Viceland executives said the channel hasadded Unilever, Samsung, ABI, Bank of America, Toyota, Diageo and Shinola,among others, to its advertising roster.

Digitally,Smith said VICE plans to add six new verticals, covering health, gaming,travel, LGBT issues, money and sustainability. They will join the company'sextant portfolio of 11 owned-and-operated channels, including Vice News,Munchies and Motherboard.

Smithclosed his 10-minute presentation by making his way to the band stage, where heled the vocals on Sham 69's anthem, "If the Kids Are United." Thehouse band comprised Nick Zinner and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, JaleelBunton of TV on the Radio and the producer Money Mark. Special vocal guestsincluded Win Butler from Arcade Fire, Pusha T, Charli XCX and Best Coast'sBethany Cosentino.

Earlierin the week, VICE Media announced a programming deal under which it willteam with to produce newshort-form and animated series. The pact, terms of which were not disclosed,will see ESPN offer certain Vice Sports series like "The Clubhouse"on its linear and digital platforms, while Viceland will gain access to ESPN'sdocumentary franchise, "30 for 30."

ESPNparent Walt Disney Co.has upped its stake in the youth-skewing giant, after an initial $200 millioninvestment through its A+E Networks joint venture with Aside from Walt Disneyand A+E Networks, VICE Media has also pickedup investment funding from 21stCentury Fox Inc. and Silicon Valley VC firm Technology CrossoverVentures.