By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)
Vice is a relatively medium sized fish with ambitions of owning the ocean. According to Comscore, Vice Media's collection of websites ranked outside the Top 50 U.S. Digital Media Properties for September while competitors ESPN (93.96 million unique users) and Gawker Media (53.91 million unique users) reached the coveted list. But, Vice's HBO series was renewed for a third and fourth season back in May and is valued at over a reported $1 billion. Over two years and a half years after Vice's co-founder Shane Smith proclaimed to Forbes that he envisioned Vice, digitally, becoming "the next ESPN", Vice debuted Vice Sports in June.
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with CULTUREDAPPROVED, Vice Sports' Head Producer, Dan Bradley speaks on how Vice will never make a SportsCenter, how the recent NBA/NFL TV deals will affect how Vice Sports covers news and more.
Keith Nelson Jr: As the Head Producer of Vice Sports. What's your usual day-to-day schedule?
Dan Bradley: That's impossible to say. One day it might be going to Stephon Marbury's play in China. It also might be at the desk researching stories. It's always different.
You travel all over the world. Like you said, you may be at Stephon Marbury's play in China or any other place in the world from day to day. What are you guys trying to accomplish when you cover stories in other countries?
That’s what we do well at Vice. Going into new cultures. Seeing new things and kind fo taking a young person’s eye to it. Where it's not some 50 year old bullshitting about stuff they don’t really know about. It’s like diving in and figuring it out. So, we see weird shit, we cover weird shit. That's kind of how we do it. Just taking in the experiences. It means going out at night. It means going to restaurants. It means trying things. It means doing what young people do there. That's part of what makes our pieces pop. You'll see we shot the stuff where you can identify it if you're from that city. If you're from that place.
What stories will Vice Sports cover? Old stories or documentary pieces?
The stories that matter now to our audience. Our audience is young. Our audience is intelligent. They’re down to hang for longer periods. Everybody was talking about with YouTube now people only watch two minute videos. Well, that’s bullshit. Everything we put out is long. It’s going to be at least 10 minutes long and we’re going to be putting out hour and a half features on YouTube. People are watching and hanging through the whole thing.
How many companies are valued between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion with a co-founder who has been banned from an entire country and publicly says objective news is impossible? According to 21st Century Fox, Time Warner and Disney, Vice Media is such a company as the three companies have surfaced as potential buyers of the burgeoning media company. Co-founder Shane Smith has stated that television is the next step in Vice's evolution and any buyer will have to provide Vice with its own television network. With the NFL and the NBA having nine-year TV deals worth over $23 billion each, it's safe to assume Vice Sports is soon to change.
Shane Smith REALLY wants Vice to be on TV. You already have VICE on HBO and a few companies interested in purchasing Vice. How would Vice Sports be if Vice had its own TV network. Is it going to be like a SportsCenter?
You know we’re never going to make a SportsCenter, right? We’re never going to make the stuff ESPN makes, because they do it, they own everything around it and they do their thing. That’s never going to be for us. I mean, we’re always going to do something different. I think for us it’s digging in and telling more stories. I mean even with Vice Sports so far we’ve done a lot of profiles. Done a lot of stuff to show people that we can hang. You know? That we get it. We KNOW all the four major sports. It’s not all snowboarding and skateboarding, even though we’re going to do that too. But now it’s time for us to dig in and tell stories that aren’t profiles. Tell stories that are bigger.
Vice Sports has been adamant in giving unfiltered sports stories from the athlete's point of view. Would a Vice network include athletes with their own TV shows and series?
Well, we’re never going to pay for editorial so I guess that flat out answers no. We’re going to do series with guys. We got a series coming out with Emmanuel Mudiay because he’s an interesting character. He’s an 18 year old kid from Texas who’s going to play in China. With everything around that there’s so many other implications. It transcends sports. So we’re going to tell that story, but it’s not like if someone comes to us with a stack of cash and says ‘I made a music video, I want you to cover it.’ No, we’re not going to do that.
What do you think about the new TV deals for the NBA and one being initiated recently with the NFL. What is that going to do how Vice and other cover it?
I don’t want to prognosticate on how it’s going to change the game, because my opinion is as good as anybody’s. I think in terms of sports, more than anything, it says we just got to keep hustling ways around using on-field content. If you’re not ESPN and you’re not the rights-holder, then licensing game footage is impossible. That’s why you see so many people like us, and so many sites around the web, we’re it’s like you have to get creative about building content that matters around sports without having those game moments inside it. That’s what it says to me. We gotta keep hustling, because the money is going to keep going up. Those asking prices aren’t going down when you’re putting out billions for a TV contract, you’re not giving out footage for free.
Check out Vice Sports' profile of Floyd Mayweather below: