Vice Media to Produce Daily, Weekly Newscasts for HBO

Vice Media Inc., the online news group, is expanding its partnership with HBO and will produce a daily newscast for the premium pay-TV channel.

Vice will also increase production of its weekly HBO series to 35 episodes annually over the next four years, the companies said Thursday in an e-mailed statement.

The partnership marks a big increase in current-events programming by Time Warner Inc.’s HBO, which is best known for exclusive drama series like “Game of Thrones” and movies. The network made headlines recently with its documentary about suspected murderer Robert Durst and is scheduled to air an expose about Scientology on March 29. The accord gives New York-based Vice Media a larger footprint on pay television.

“HBO gives us a great platform to put stories to a wider audience,” Vice Chief Executive Officer Shane Smith said in a telephone interview with HBO CEO Richard Plepler.

The deal stems from a lunch two months ago where Plepler and HBO’s programming chief, Michael Lombardo, asked Smith how they could work together more. Plepler loved a documentary Vice had made about ISIS, the militant group, and wanted to feature future Vice documentaries on HBO.

“I remember calling Shane and saying, ‘The only thing wrong with this is it’s not on HBO,’” Plepler said in an interview. “I’m competitive, and we should have all the best stuff on HBO. We just didn’t have a vehicle for it, so we said let’s make some room for Vice docs, which expanded into a conversation about maybe even a daily news show.”

The half-hour Vice newscast will air five days a week for 48 weeks, while the weekly series expands to 35 episodes from 14. Vice, which recently produced its first special for HBO, “Killing Cancer,” will also make 32 specials through 2018.

Weekly Series

Vice’s weekly documentary series first aired on HBO in April 2013, and is in its third season. HBO has already ordered a fourth season of the show, in which reporters travel the globe to report on climate change, the war in Afghanistan and the arms industry. Smith is one of the show’s lead reporters.

The companies are expanding their partnership as HBO prepares to offer a Web-only subscription service. HBO Now paved the way for a deal, Plepler said, because HBO will have more flexibility with its schedule.

Vice’s first HBO show introduced the youth-focused company to HBO’s older, affluent audience, enhancing the brand of a company that began as a subversive culture magazine and became a popular source for video news and commentary online. Vice operates bureaus across the world, has relationships with major brands like Intel Corp. and received praise from media critics for its aggressive reporting.

Vice has been trying to develop its own TV channel, Smith said in October. The company raised $500 million from Technology Crossover Ventures and A+E Networks last year.

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