Vice Said to Hire Banks to Raise Fund for Scripted Programs

  • Fundraising process for programs said to be in early stages
  • Previous investment by Disney valued Vice at $4 billion

Shane Smith

Photographer: Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Vice Media Inc., the New York-based company known for provocative news coverage, has hired Morgan Stanley and Raine Group to help raise money for a fund to develop and produce scripted programming for TV, mobile devices and movie theaters, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Vice, which already produces a slew of unscripted programs, plans to distribute shows in more than 80 countries by the end of this year, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Vice also makes video for services like YouTube and Snapchat along with a daily news show for HBO and series about the culture of marijuana, gay and lesbian issues and food for its own cable network, Viceland.

Led by Chief Executive Officer Shane Smith, Vice dipped its toe into scripted programming last year with the release of the film “The Bad Batch” and the acquisition of a stake in Pulse Films, a U.K.-based production company that made the movies “American Honey” and “Who is Dayani Cristal?” Vice would use any additional money to ramp up internal production.

The fundraising process is in the very early stages, said the person. It’s not immediately clear how much Vice would seek to raise. Vice declined to comment, as did Raine and Morgan Stanley.

Media companies often turn to banks for help financing production. Steven Spielberg raised more than $800 million for a film and TV fund with help from JP Morgan Chase & Co., as well as Comerica Inc. Raine, an early investor in Vice, last year invested in Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, producer of “A Beautiful Mind” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Vice has already raised money from some of the largest media companies in the world. Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox Inc. both own stakes in Vice, which was valued at $4 billion at the time of Disney’s latest investment. Vice’s value has gained on the strong reception to its weekly news magazine for HBO, an award-winning documentary about the Islamic State terrorist group and the growing viewership for its videos online.

The company is now looking to new formats and markets for growth. Viceland, the channel Vice created with A+E Networks, ordered its first scripted comedy in January, starring “Dawson’s Creek” actor James van der Beek as a fictional version of DJ Diplo.

Vice has also been expanding into new international territories. Last summer, the company unveiled deals to enter or build up operations in 51 countries, a push that ranges from a 24-hour TV channel in Australia and New Zealand to a venture in Africa.

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