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VICE is not turning into a TV company

Thisweek the global content industry gathered in the south of France for the annualMIPTV event. VICE Mediaarguably stole the show as it made a string of announcements, which illustrates that the industry as a wholeis experiencing an explosive uptake of digital formats.

Duringan April 6 keynote at MIPTV, Eddy Moretti, VICE's chief creative officer and co-presidentof the newly launched VICELAND network, revealed plans for a French market launchof the lifestyle TV channel in partnership with Canal Plus SA later on this year.

The launchis part of an expansion strategy that will see VICELAND air in up to 15 of the largestTV markets globally within the next 12 to 18 months. Former executiveArjan Hoekstra will reportedly overseethe expansion of the VICELAND network across the European market.

JoiningMoretti on stage for the announcement was Jean-Marc Juramie, managing director ofCanal+'s direct-to-home business CanalSat, who said the partnership would help theFrench giant to better engage with its millennial audience.

SNL ImageVICELAND content presented at MIPTV
Source: VICE

AlthoughMoretti insisted that the "digital side of the business" is the enginethat drives the company, VICE's pivot toward the TV industry with its round-the-clockchannel is a poignant reminder that linearTV remains an important medium.

However,he insisted "we are not turning into a TV company, ladies and gentlemen. Weare just adding TV to a robust multichannel, platform-agnostic business."

VICELAND,a joint venture with VICE's co-investor A+ENetworks, first launchedin the U.S. and Canada in February of this year, under the creative direction ofAcademy Award-winning film director Spike Jonze.

The youth-focused,Brooklyn-based business recently announced plansto air the network in the U.K. and Ireland exclusively to Sky customers. The pan-European pay TV giant recently that its users will be ableto access VICELAND live on demand or via its mobile TV service Sky Go. The channelcan also be watched on Sky's online streaming platform NOW TV.

Morettirevealed VICE is working on a separate solution for feature phones and said themedia company would follow up with some announcements soon.

"Weare completing an ecosystem, so it's desktop, it's tablet, it's mobile, it's contentfor television channels and then eventually feature phones," he told delegatesin Cannes.

The multiscreenstrategy is one that appears to be appeasing its investors.

has upped its stake in the youth mediagiant, after an initial $200 million investment through its A+E Networks joint venture.Aside from Walt Disney and A+E Networks, VICE Media has also picked up investmentfrom 21st Century Foxand Silicon Valley VC firm Technology Crossover Ventures.

On thecontent side, VICELAND is dabbling in a bit of everything.

Not onlyis the channel bringing Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning"The Emperor of All Maladies," on board, but it is also working on a seriesof new documentaries with HBO, one of which includes an interview with PresidentObama about the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders. Adding to that, Morettisaid VICELAND is just two months away from debuting the VICE News Tonight Show.

VICEis also adding virtual reality to its roster, teaming up with Samsung in a project titled "Beyond the Frame"to produce VR content — some of it as long as 20 minutes — exclusive to the newSamsungGear VR headset.

Describingthe network as "a very human channel stitched together by real people,"Moretti emphasized VICELAND's original programming as a key differentiator, emphasizingthat all of VICELAND's content is being created in-house.