ESPN Will Air Vice Media's TV, Web Series as Disney Deepens Ties

TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2014 - Day 1

Shane Smith.

Photographer: Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch
  • Sports network will broadcast the Vice series `The Clubhouse'
  • Viceland channel to carry ESPN's `30 for 30' documentaries

Vice Media Inc. will produce TV shows and web series for Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, the most-watched sports network in the U.S., a deal that deepens the ties between the two companies.

ESPN will air Vice’s “The Clubhouse,” in which athletes talk to viewers off the field, on both its TV network and on the web, and carry new episodes of “Vice World of Sports,” after they air on Vice’s cable network Viceland, according to a statement Tuesday. The two companies also will jointly develop short-form series, both live-action and animated.

The deal marks the first collaboration between ESPN, Disney’s most profitable network, and Shane Smith’s burgeoning Vice Media. Burbank, California-based Disney is one of the biggest outside investors in Vice, with a $400 million stake. Vice, based in New York, already produces a weekly show for Time Warner Inc.’s HBO, and this year introduced its first cable network, which it operates with A+E Networks.

Under the accord, Viceland will re-broadcast films from ESPN’s documentary series “30 for 30,” which since 2009 has told stories about hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, track star Marion Jones and point-shaving in college basketball.

“Growing up watching ESPN I came to love the brand and their content. Maybe a little too much,” Smith, Vice’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “The amount of manly tears shed over various 30 for 30s throughout the years has been nothing short of embarrassing.”

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