Vice CEO Shane Smith recently proclaimed that Vice will bring millennials back to TV and now the worldwide leader in sports is helping. Today, ESPN and Vice Media announced a partnership to produce original programming and distribute future content across multiple platforms.
As part of the deal, Vice Sports will produce original series for ESPN to be distributed on the network’s TV, mobile, and digital platforms. The collaborative short-form series will focus on sporting events and popular athletes “outside the mainstream,” according to the press release. ESPN will also air episodes from Vice World Of Sports, which debuted in April on Vice’s TV network Viceland. The series will run on ESPN outlets following live airing.
On Viceland’s end, the new network will re-air films from ESPN’s critically acclaimed docu-series 30 for 30. Vice CEO Shane Smith, who has been looking to make “the next ESPN” for years, expressed his elation at the prospects of this new deal. “To be teaming up with ESPN, creating brand new sports shows for them, and then showing 30 for 30s on Viceland is perhaps one of the favorite moments in my professional life,” he said in a press release announcing the deal.
ESPN President John Skipper shared in Smith’s big-picture ambitions, boasting that the content produced from the partnership will be a “win for fans of ESPN, VICE, and storytelling in general.” “I applaud Shane for understanding that television is the smartest path to worldwide leadership,” Skipper added.
The deal comes at a transitional period for both media entities. ESPN lost more than seven million subscribers between 2013-2015 and has lost a good deal of top talent in the past year, including 30 for 30 producer Bill Simmons. Launched in late February, Viceland’s weekly viewership in its first three weeks was reported as a meager 60,400 viewers.
Both companies are no doubt hoping this latest venture will bear new fruit in the rapidly evolving medium.