Vice aims to ‘rescue you from television’s deathlike grip’ with VBS.tv
Vice Magazine, Spike Jones and MTV - those three names made media news in the US when rumours began to circulate about the launch of VBS.tv, a new Internet video provider targeting males 18-34 with edgy content. 'It's ridiculous how generous we are,' says the press package - a phrase that will easily apply to marketers wondering what's in store for them on VBS.tv.
Vice Magazine is set to launch the Vice Broadcasting System (VBS.tv) in Canada on March 5, with Spike Jonze (director of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich) as creative director. The Internet video site, live as a beta test since Feb. 1, promises all original content, posted fresh six times a week – from international news, pop and underground culture coverage. The VBS.tv wide screen feature is high definition, and on-demand content can be enabled for sharing and embedding in users’ own websites and blogs.
VBS.tv is an independent Vice venture, according to the mag’s Toronto offices. MTV has no involvement in the online programming. Currently, all 10-hours of the live content is original (only the Vice Guide to Travel segments are previously released as a feature length DVD through HMV, Indigo, American Apparel and indie record shops), but Vice tells MiC future content partnerships are the works. Discussions are ongoing with Canadian and US broadcasters. After the March 5 launch, the VBS.tv will be popping up on YouTube, MySpace and iTunes podcasts.
About 50,000 copies of Vice Magazine are distributed across Canada with a 100% pick-up rate. In 2006, a typical month for Viceland.com saw 62,856 unique visitors from this country and 759,000 page views. About 60% of the magazine’s readership in Canada is 21-30 years old, and another 25% are 31-40, with a 65% skew towards males. VBS.tv will target a similar demo, although the Vice crew expects a wider audience to be drawn to the video site due to news coverage from Iraq, Bolivia and Sudan. Skater programming, for example, will also work to target specific niche audiences.
Vice Magazine sales director Shawn Phelan tells MiC that VBS.tv will be geo-targeted, allowing Canadian marketers to reach Canadian eyeballs via the sponsorable video platform. Phelan says that within six months, the Canadian version will allow marketers to target more specific regions across the country. Opportunities range from banners and pre/post-roll video ads to complete show and channel sponsorships. VBS.tv is also open to working with marketers at the content creation stage.
‘There’s going to be a bunch of opportunities beyond the standard units,’ says Phelan. ‘I think we’d have to take a special look at the creative if it’s longer than 30 seconds, but certainly a good 30-second spot – no worries there. Creative is going to have to fit (our format), though. We want to work as partners with people, and everybody who works with us on the magazine side is used to that, and they certainly don’t want to give us something that doesn’t fit with our crowd. We’re also very open to the idea of moving beyond product placement into creating content in conjunction with clients.’
Current Vice Magazine advertisers include Jeep, Dodge, Honda, Nissan, Molson and Coors Lite. The mag is working on coming campaigns for fragrance launches by Calvin Klein and Coty. Its current advertisers have all responded with a ‘high degree of interest’ about the VBS.tv launch, says Phelan. Prices for ad opportunities on VBS.tv range will range from $12 CPM to $30-$35 CPM for streaming video, while co-branded content and other opportunities will be priced according to the complexity of each project.
Canadian content for VBS.tv will be added to the site throughout 2007. ‘Our goal is to be 100% Can-con,’ says Phelan. ‘A lot of the post-production is going to be handled up here. We’re building editing suites right now. We’ll have our own videographers, our own editors. Right now, about 80% of the people working on the productions are Canadian, but most of them are working out of the New York office for now, while we expand up here.’
Several original series are already online at VBS.tv, focusing on music, international issues and politics, and other unique extensions of the Vice brand. Among the most notable:
* Bangs is about Lance Bangs, who’s known for his camera work on Jackass, following follies and foibles of the music world.
* Dos & Don’ts & Friends is based on Vice Magazine‘s most popular column.
* Epicly Later’d is about skateboarders doing everything but skating as blogger Patrick O’Dell (also Vice‘s photo editor) hangs out with his pro skater friends.
* Heavy Metal in Baghdad follows Iraq’s only heavy metal band. Live at the Old Blue Last covers performances at London, England’s Vice-owned pub.
* Practice Space gets behind the scenes with bands in their natural habitat – the rehearsal room.
* Soft Focus interrogates musicians (Henry Rollins, for example) at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
* Toxic West Virginia investigates how mining companies are destroying the Appalachian mountain range.
* VBS Meets presents interviews with fashion designers, rappers and authors who get Vice‘s approval.
* The Cute Show overloads viewers with kittens, puppies, unicorns, fuzzy blankets, and little elves that sing lullabies.
* Balls Deep puts Vice associate editor Thomas Morton’s courage to the test by putting him into diverse social groups, like biker gangs and hardcore gay leather daddies.
* Lovedolls investigates robotic and sexual active girlfriends on the market in Japan. There are also shows dedicated to politics in South America, the most dangerous reggae don living in Jamaica, and ground-level reporting from Darfur.