As we predicted on Friday, with Time Warner’s deal to buy Vice Media off the table other investors are already lining up for a piece of the buzzy media company. First up at the plate is A&E Networks. An A&E spokesman has confirmed that the network is close to finalizing a deal for a 10% stake in the guerilla news outfit. While a far cry from the acquisition deal that was rumored with Time Warner, the A&E investment will still provide Vice with more capital to expand their programming options as well as a new television home for Vice-branded content. Good news for the network whose current biggest hit is controversial red neck reality soap “Duck Dynasty.”
The Vice team already have experience producing for television. The last few years have seen the media brand enter into limited television deals with both MTV and HBO. In addition to cable programming, Vice will also produce digital content for A&E. Vice already operates a highly successful YouTube channel as well as several growing affiliate channels like Vice News, Vice Sports, Vice Munchies, Vice Motherboard, and Vice Thump.
The deal will mean more cash for Vice to grow on. The company’s initial foray into online video was funded by YouTube’s now defunct original channels initiative which provided seed funding for Vice’s primary YouTube channel, which is now nearly 5 million subscribers, as well as the more modest Vice Noisey, a music channel currently holding strong at around 800,000 subscribers. Vice would later expand its efforts in online video and news with the help of a $70 million cash infusion from Rupert Murdoch’s FOX networks.
Vice’s diverse array of content and video programming, and in particular its bold news coverage, is seen by many as an alternative to more traditional media. Vice was recently included in YouTube’s Beacon program which advertises a hand full of top tier YouTube channels in television and print ads. The efforts has helped to cement Vice as a household name bringing more attention from investors.