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How Vice Will Make $500 Million In 2014


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Holy smokes what a lucrative business:

Vice generated more revenues in the first quarter of 2014 than it did in all of 2013, Smith told Business Insider at the end of May, affirming an earlier statement that the company would bring in $500 million this year and $1 billion by 2016.

By comparison, BuzzFeed, a notable competitor in the digital youth media market, is aiming to make $120 million this year.

‘We Shoot It, We Cut It, It’s Up The Next Day’

Today, online video fetches some of the internet's highest advertising rates, and the numbers have spurred increased video production from The New York Times to AOL and everyone in between.

When Vice began to wade into internet video in 2006, the medium was still in its infancy.

Its first experiments were published on DVDs, but the company was frustrated by the time it took to bring programming to market. It took a year for its newsmagazine DVD, “The Vice Guide to Travel,” to be made into physical disks and shipped to stores. Smith said that by the time customers were able to get their hands on the DVD, a sort of R-rated National Geographic, the stories were no longer relevant.

In partnership with Viacom, Vice launched an online video network called VBS.tv, back when the technology was known not as "streaming video" but by its technical name, TV over IP, or television over internet protocol.

At VBS.tv, Vice translated its unique style of print journalism to video, supervised by the well-known director Spike Jonze. Viewers could enjoy dispatches from Vice staffers, including Smith himself, as they shopped for black-market weapons in Bulgaria and hunted for mutated animals at the site of the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine — and they could do it in a timely way.

"We said, 'We just want to shoot stuff that people can see right away,'" Smith said. "We shoot it, we cut it, it’s up the next day. That was the idea behind VBS.tv."

...

Vice now has its own Emmy-nominated documentary series on HBO and plans to produce upwards of 2,000 hours of video content in 2014. The Brooklyn-based company employs more than 1,000 people at offices in 36 countries.

"We understood early on that the most engaging way, the most emotional way to connect to someone is through video," Baim said. "The video we make is artful, it’s poetic, and it looks really beautiful whether you see it on a small screen or on a movie screen."

If nothing else, the videos are certainly popular. The company’s main YouTube account has 4.7 million subscribers, and Smith says Vice videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times on the platform.

Selling To The Highest BidderDespite the success of VBS.tv, Vice has lately embraced a platform-neutral strategy. If Vice's content is worth watching, the theory goes, it doesn't matter whether people see it on television, YouTube, or the company's website.

...

The film in question is an episode of "Far Out," a video series about people living in remote locations sponsored by the outdoor apparel company North Face. According to a 2013 article in The New Yorker, a brand can sponsor 12 episodes of one of Vice's 70 original video series for anywhere between $1 million and $5 million.

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