In a bit of a stunner, A+E Networks has just bumped off a rival effort by Time Warner to acquire a 10% stake in Vice Media, the upstart digital news organization with a show on TW-owned HBO, almost 5M subscribers to its YouTube channel and a much-coveted young male demographic. Deadline has learned the deal is for $250M, valuing Vice at $2.5B, and was spearheaded by A+E president and CEO Nancy Dubuc, who sees Vice’s digital imprint and target young male demo a perfect match to compliment A+E-owned History.
A+E also owns A&E Network, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, Bio, FYI, H2, History en Espanol, Crime & Investigation Network and Military History as well as A+E Networks’ Studios, A&E IndieFilm and international channels. The Vice-branded news show will remain on HBO per contracts, we’re told.
In June, news broke that Time Warner and Vice were far along in talks for a deal that valued Vice Media at $2.2B. One scenario had Time Warner meld its news channel HLN with Vice in return for about half of the combined company that has captured the imaginations and financial support of former MTV chief Tom Freston, WME’s Ari Emanuel, WPP, and The Raine Group as well as comedian Bill Maher.
CEO Shane Smith founded Vice in 1994 as a music magazine; it now offers cutting edge news that critics say too often includes stunts. Supporters and critics feasted last year on Vice’s controversial effort to gain access to North Korea for its documentary series on HBO by arranging an exhibition basketball game featuring Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman and some members of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Last year News Corp (before it split into two companies) paid $70M for 5% of Vice, implying a value of $1.4B for the full company. Rupert Murdoch once tweeted that the company is a “wild, interesting effort to interest millennials who don’t watch or read established media.”