Tonight at 11PM is the debut of Vice’s new HBO news magazine/adventure show called, in fitting brand-forward fashion, Vice. Did everyone read that long New Yorker profile of the company on the cusp of its full-blown recognition as a next generation media powerhouse? Reading it, I found myself conflicted. Slightly repelled as always by the relentless self-aggrandizing and tacky hedonism of their image, while legitimately admiring the real bravery it takes to throw oneself into dangerous situations, rather than just mouthing off about geo-politics from the sidelines. One thing that was especially fascinating about the article was how it suggested that an HBO show wasn’t an end goal so much as an high-profile advertisement pointing back at the brand’s web content, which is where they make their real money. It’s unclear if Vice needs HBO more than HBO needs Vice.
This is just the latest example of the weird media moment we’re at. Everyone can sort of sense that it’s all about to become some kind of nebulous blur between web content and broadcast TV, that the pie is going to shrink and separate into niche interests even more, somehow, and there will cease to be a meaningful difference between video content mediums created for separate, single-use devices. Scheduled events will probably continue, but will only be meaningful for marking the first moment when something is let loose, and everyone can choose to watch it, discuss it, rip it apart if they like. That more chaotic, more personal media moment feels like it’ll happen in five minutes (if it didn’t start five minutes ago). Right now, though, TV is still a structured thing that needs new ideas to fill holes, sell ads, and increasingly it’s going to readymade Internet concepts to find that new programming.
So far, it’s doing this in a couple easily identifiable, sorta timid ways: