After paying a reported $250 million to acquire a 10 percent stake in Vice Media, A+E Networks may be set to let the politics- and culture-focused media company take over one of its channels.
According to Re/code, which cites anonymous sources close to Vice's dealings, the company is also close to raising another $250 million from VC firm Technology Crossover Ventures. Vice, the report notes, will then use its half of the billion dollars in capital it raised for selling 20 percent of itself to launch a cable network that would be tonally similar to the Vice TV series that currently runs on HBO.
"It's a great deal for us," Vice CEO Shane Smith told the Financial Times, speaking about the A+E investment. "It means we can preserve our independence and it gives us a war chest for another three years of dramatic growth." Smith conceded Vice is looking into launching its own cable channel, but is focused for now on merely producing programs for existing A+E channels.
But plans to establish a new Vice cable network might actually be more accelerated than that. Vice already discussed the possibility of taking over Time Warner Inc.'s HLN channel, but talks broke down earlier this summer.
So which A+E channel would Vice take over?
As Re/code notes, A+E--which is co-owned by Disney and Hearst--operates six cable channels, with the flagship A+E, Lifetime and History firmly established, and Bio recently undergoing a rebrand into FYI.
LMN (Lifetime Movie Network) and H2, however, only command 84 million and 68 million homes respectively, and their audiences are still in the developing stage.
Thematically, Vice's hard-edged documentary news format would be a jarring transition for either LMN or H2, which offer much lighter programming aimed at a decidedly female audience. But faced with maintaining carriage and CPM rates for middling channels, it would be understandable for A+E to choose a programming alternative based on one of the hottest brands in the media business right now.
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