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商业 - 传媒与文化

Vice Media首席执行官:传统媒体可以去死了

Miguel Helft 2013年10月16日

Vice Media已经成为数字媒体界的领头羊。这家公司的首席执行官西恩•史密斯称,他的公司之所以能够在互联网时代取得成功是因为不落俗套,贴近年轻受众。如果传统媒体看不惯,它们大可以去死。而且,传统媒体如果想用老一套来做新媒体,只有死路一条。

    Vice Media首席执行官西恩•史密斯

    Vice Media诞生时是一家独立的杂志。如今,它已蜕变为数字媒体界离经叛道的强者。这家公司竟然如此叛逆,很大程度上是源于有一位性格豪放不羁的首席执行官,他给这家公司烙上了强烈的个人印记。外界认为,Vice Media对待新闻的方式“与其说是在做新闻,不如说是‘干傻事’”。可是,虽然这家公司报道的态度毫无掩饰、咄咄逼人,却在全球越来越多渴望了解新鲜资讯的年轻观众里形成了共鸣。无论喜欢与否,Vice Media都在蒸蒸日上的新媒体领域脱颖而出,成为最高明的新媒体之一。这家公司正在借助YouTube发掘成功商机(《财富》最近发布的封面文章“YouTube怎样改变一切”(How YouTube changes everything)就阐述了这个趋势)。

    这次接受《财富》采访时,史密斯无所不谈,探讨了Vice Media成功的关键因素,给传统媒体的建议,并为本公司在朝鲜的大胆报道辩解。以下是编辑整理后这次对话的文字记录。

    您将Vice称为“街头的时代华纳”,这么说是什么意思?

    它只是代表着时代华纳(《财富》的母公司)是一家经营杂志、电视、电影、音乐和图书的综合媒体集团。我们也是这样的企业。我们是正在换岗的卫兵。我们的杂志、记录、书籍、网络视频、电视节目和电影更倾向于Y一代,没有那么注重婴儿潮一代。

    所以说,“街头”的意思是年轻一代?

    没错。

    Vice自称全数字网络,可你已经说过,你有其他一切渠道,包括在美国有线电视网HBO上播出的一档节目。对Vice来说,电视和互联网怎样相得益彰?

    我们是全数字的,这个意思是说,数字是我们的焦点。我们首先会为互联网创造产品。如果它们也上了电视和电影,那当然好。那只是有一种挖掘内容的探索,但我们首先会瞄准互联网。

    YouTube或是其他许多互联网渠道都盼望着在电视方面“毕业”,因为这个领域的广告收入大得多。您现在是指Vice不属于这种情况?

    有人想撤离数字平台,因为理论上说,电视的利润更丰厚,(感觉上)电视也是黄金标杆。

    我说过想做下一个ESPN、CNN和MTV的综合体。听了这话,人人都会说“他是个狂妄自大的疯子”。可如果大家看看自己可以在YouTube上能做的事情,留意一下相关的数据,比如了解一下(面向游戏玩家的互联网视频网络)Machinima一个月能达到35亿的浏览量,就会觉得这不是下一个CNN,这得是十倍体量的新一代CNN。这才是让我们兴奋的地方。

    如果你想用电视作为自己品牌的营销工具,或者用它创造部分利润,因为你已经投资了数字领域,那当然好。我们在23个国家都有地面电视业务,但它并不是我们的核心业务。我们的核心是要扩大自身规模,增加我们的覆盖面,以一种有意义的方法让它带来盈利。互联网的商机能产生更大的利润,相当于20年前有线电视的10倍。

    Born as an indie magazine, Vice Media has morphed into an irreverent digital media powerhouse, in large part, through the force of personality of its iconoclastic CEO-cum-on-air-personality, Shane Smith. Its approach to the news has been described as "More 'Jackass' than journalism." Yet, Vice's raw, in-your-face voice is resonating with an ever-growing global audience of young people hungry for something new. Like it or not, Vice has emerged as one of the savviest players in the burgeoning new media world that is finding success around YouTube (a trend that was the subject of a recent Fortune cover story, How YouTube changes everything).

    In a wide-ranging conversation with Fortune, Smith discussed the keys to Vice's success, offered advice to traditional media, and defended the North Korea stunt. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.

    You've called Vice the "Time Warner of the street." What do you mean?

    It simply means that Time Warner [Fortune's parent company] (TWX) is a media conglomerate that does magazines, TV, movies, music, books. And so are we. We are the changing of the guard. We have magazines and records and books and online video and TV shows and movies that are more for Gen Y than for baby boomers.

    So the "street" refers to the younger generation?

    Exactly.

    Vice describes itself as an all-digital network, yet as you have just said, you have all these other channels, including a show on HBO. What's the interplay between TV and online for Vice?

    We are all digital in the sense that that's our focus. We create things first for online. If they go to TV, if they go to film, fine. That's just another exploitation of that content, but we are online first.

    A lot of the other YouTube or online channels aspire to "graduate" to television because the ad dollars are still much bigger there. You're saying that's not the case for Vice?

    People want to migrate off of digital platforms because it is theoretically more lucrative, and there's also [a sense] that TV is the gold standard.

    I've said I want to be next ESPN, the next CNN and the next MTV rolled up into one. Well everybody says, "He's a megalomaniac lunatic." If you look at the numbers you can do on YouTube, if you look, for example at Machinima (an online video network for gamers) with 3.5 billion views a month, you wouldn't be the next CNN. You would be the next CNN 10x. That's what's exciting for us.

    If you want to use TV as a marketing tool for your brand, or it's a margin builder because you have already paid for it digitally, fine. We do terrestrial TV in 23 countries, but it's not core to our business. What's core to our business is increasing our scale, increasing our reach and monetizing that in a meaningful way. The opportunities online are 10x what cable offered 20 years ago.

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