Verizon* announced this morning that it will be adding Vice Media to the list of partners that provide content for the telco’s forthcoming over-the-top video service due out later this year. As a part of the multi-year agreement between the two companies, Vice will produce original domestic and international programming that’s exclusive to Verizon.
These videos will be available by way of the soon-to-launch, mobile-first video service which is being aimed at those who are ditching cable TV in favor of streaming video and other over-the-top services.
Verizon has yet to release details on its over-the-top (OTT) plans, beyond the fact that the service will be made available to Verizon Wireless subscribers and will roll out some time later this year. However, the company has announced a number of content deals in the months leading up to its release, including those with Viacom, AwesomenessTV, Scripps Networks Interactive, ESPN, CBS Sports and more.
These agreements give some insight into what Verizon’s OTT service will look like. Viacom, which carries a number of popular cable networks including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, agreed last fall to allow Verizon Wireless to distribute its content, but the two didn’t disclose which channels would be available. Meanwhile, the Scripps deal includes several of its well-known cable brands, like Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel. (Scripps is also working with Verizon’s OTT competitor, Dish’s Sling TV.)
In addition, while ESPN’s deal with Sling TV makes Dish’s streaming service the only over-the-top means for accessing the popular sports channel, Verizon’s service will take away that exclusivity in the future, it seems.
Verizon has previously said the lineup will offer 20 to 30 channels, including both cable TV and broadcast networks. That makes Verizon’s OTT play more competitive with Comcast’s newly launched Stream service, which largely focuses on broadcast channels instead of cable channels, like Sling TV does.
With Vice Media, Verizon is gaining access to video content across a variety of categories, including food, travel, tech and more. And it will feature Vice’s new original interview series, “Autobiographies,” Verizon noted in its announcement.
The Vice deal makes sense given the demographic Verizon is after with its mobile video service. Vice’s digital programming is aimed at a younger, more digital audience — the same people who are cutting the cord with pay TV (or just never signing up for cable in the first place).
Originally founded as a small Montreal-based punk magazine in 1994 before expanding to online content and news, Vice has done a number of other, notable deals in recent months, focused on expanding its reach.
In March, the company teamed up with HBO to expand its programming there, including the addition of a 5-day a week news broadcast. And this May, Vice teamed with Spotify to offer short-form video content for Spotify’s video service.
“The media landscape is experiencing a seismic shift in storytelling, audience, immediacy and platforms,” said Terry Denson, VP of Content Strategy and Acquisition at Verizon in a statement this morning. “VICE is connecting with an entire generation in a way that no else is and Verizon will connect consumers to VICE in a way that no one else does by combining VICE’s storytelling with the most compelling mobile video platform.”
*TechCrunch parent AOL was acquired by Verizon last month for $4.4 billion, in part for AOL’s programmatic ad technology, as well as its ability to boost Verizon’s mobile video service with additional video content offerings.