Tag Archives: Viceland

Rogers pulls the plug on Viceland

The news was a long time coming, but was finally made official today: Rogers is ending its $100-million content deal with Vice Media and shutting down the Viceland television channel on March 31.

Vice, though it will regain control of its content, will face layoffs as a result. The recently formed union isn’t sure how many.

Vice still has other deals, notably with Rogers competitor Bell Media for Vice News Tonight on HBO and Much and a documentary deal with CTV’s W5. And of course it still has its online content.

Viceland Canada, formerly the Biography Channel, required significant startup investment after it launched on Feb. 29, 2016, which led to a $2.5-million loss in the 2015-16 broadcast year. Presumably this means the licence for the channel would be turned in (that’s what Rogers is telling Cartt.ca), though Vice is suggesting that Viceland could continue. Another possibility might be that Bell decides to take over the rights to Viceland and rebrand one of its zombie channels like Book Television or incorporate it into a related channel like Much or MTV/MTV2. Or someone could ask the CRTC for permission to allow the American Viceland to be distributed in Canada.

More coverage from the Globe and Mail and CBC News.

UPDATE (Jan. 27): The end of the Rogers-Vice deal means job losses. The Canadian Media Guild says 23 people were given layoff notices. The fact that they’re now in a union means they have some protections.

Nirvanna the Band the Show, one of the Canadian Viceland originals, will still be produced because its deal with Vice is still valid.

Meanwhile, InfoPresse asked V about its plans for a French Viceland. V has abandoned the idea of a full-time channel, but will still produce content with Vice.

Viceland channel to launch French-language sister

Viceland, the Rogers-owned TV channel carrying content from millennial magnet Vice Media, is still in (extended) free previews, but already there’s news of a French-language equivalent.

Vice announced deals in several markets including Australia and India. One of them is a deal with Groupe V Média in Quebec, the owner of the V television network and MusiquePlus and MusiMax, which it picked up from the Bell-Astral merger.

The press release is low on details, but does say there will be a French-language Viceland channel in the mix, along with a new TV studio, “an entity specializing in content marketing as well as the development of international distribution agreements.”

According to Guylaine O’Farrell, V’s general manager of communications and marketing, Vice content will air on V’s existing channels, and the Viceland channel is being planned for sometime in 2017. Asked if this is going to be a new channel or the rebranding of an existing one (Rogers rebranded The Biography Channel to create Viceland, and V is expected to do something drastic with MusiMax), she said that adding it as a new specialty channel “is what is foreseen for the moment.”

Financial details were not disclosed. Rogers’s content deal with Vice was worth $100 million when it was announced in 2014.

Vice has already started producing some content in French. There’s a French version of its daily Vice du jour digital newscast, and it has a bureau in Montreal (where Vice was founded as a magazine in 1994). But it’s unclear how much of Viceland en français’s programming will be original content from Quebec and how much of it will be translated content from English Canada and the rest of the world.

It’s probably a coincidence, but this announcement came the same day the CRTC approved an application by Rogers to sell a 29.9% stake in Viceland to Vice. (Vice has the option of increasing its stake up to 49%.) The price of the sale was not disclosed.