Vice’s NewFronts Presentation: Guns, Sports and Little Music

Vice is getting bigger, but it isn’t growing up. At the Landmark Cinema on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for their first annual NewFronts presentation, co-founder Shane Smith and creative director Eddy Moretti debuted a slate of new online programming that stays closely in line with the bad boy media brand’s signature topics — namely barbarity, sex and drugs. 

There was some news. Vice’s eponymous weekly HBO news magazine, now in its second season, has been renewed for a third. And the organization is delving deeper into the sports world with a new online show called, you guessed it, “Vice Sports,” which promises to erode the boundaries between athlete and fan.

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Standing before an audience of well-healed social media and advertising types, who had been generously plied with free pork belly steamed buns, Budweiser and popcorn, Moretti sold his company as the gatekeeper to an information-hungry generation of young people. Smith, who closed the presentation, was less polished.

“Upfronts are weird,” he said, acknowledging the crowd full of people he hoped would “give us money.” “We’re here to say ‘Hey look at all this cool shit we’re doing!’ But also, ‘It’s OK to put Crest next to severed heads.’”

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Among the new programs coming to Vice.com and its healthy YouTube channel, which now has nearly 7 million subscribers, are “Toxic,” an environmentally conscious series that ventures to unsanctioned oil fields in Nigeria and illegal logging operations in the Amazon; and “Black Market,” which will investigate domestic gun running and sex work among other underbellies.

There will also be breakout series based around Vice’s music and technology verticals, Noisey and Motherboard, respectively, with the latter co-hosted by Claire Evans of the band YACHT.

Once a mere magazine with a well defined taste for the distasteful, Vice’s transformation into what Smith calls “the Time Warner of the streets” was probably completed last year, with the arrival of the HBO show and a cash injection from 21st Century Fox that valued the company at $1.4 billion.

Sustaining such impressive growth, however, demands equally impressive cash flow. For that, the bad boys still need Crest.


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