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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。

    很多人都成功地在YouTube上吸引了一些观众,但也有不少人抱怨,如何利用这些观众群体带来收入还是难度很大的挑战。如果用美元做类比,数字领域相当于几美分的生意。您提到的Machinima最近裁掉了10%的员工,Vice是否也面临同样的问题?

    我们Vice很幸运,能和一些全球最大的品牌合作,我们的销售实力比自己的扩张能力还强。我们所做的和Machinima不同。YouTube平台的商业化问题不是秘密。但你可以开始做一些有创意的生意,做一些品牌方面的交易。许多提供互联网内容的公司经营遭遇失败,那是因为他们没有直接奔品牌去,没能让自己的交易独树一帜,创造性地实现商业化。

    您能举个这方面的例子吗

    拿Creators Project(这个渠道专事艺术与科技有交集的领域)来说吧。我们在品牌层面【与英特尔(Intel)】达成了交易。我们会生产一些年轻人喜欢的内容,帮助品牌。然后我们就提供那样的内容,挖掘那种内容。我们在中国有个电视节目,在印度有移动方面的业务,获得了全球23个国家的电视播出许可。我们还在YouTube上开了一个频道。它推动增加了客户订购服务,也带来了几百万的视频浏览量。英特尔很开心,因为他们更多的广告都能在全球更大范围内宣传推广。在把广告放到YouTube上之前,我们为广告内容支付了费用。那些就是你必须为这种交易付出的成本。品牌想要规模,希望用户参与投入。如果你只是坐等着别人为你挣钱,我认为不可能出现这种事。

    您能不能保持广告文字的独立性?

    绝对可以。我们不是给内容贴上品牌的标签,品牌知识赞助我们做的内容。做法和电视或者广播、杂志根本没区别。

    Vice有盈利能力吗?

    有,而且盈利能力强劲。我们有条规矩,那就是,我们做的一切都必须能赚到钱。

    今年第四季度或者明年第一季度早期,我们就会宣布达成一些盈利可观的协议。即使没有这些交易,我们一年里也会增长一倍。至少对我们来说,以美元来衡量,我们的收入已经相当可观了。

    YouTube乃至整个互联网通常都是采取短版。您已经在长版方面获得成功,为什么会成功?

    我认为,长版是有史以来第一次具备了可行性是因为带宽,因为年轻人在互联网或者移动或平板上可以消费电视那种长度的内容。Y一代年轻人现在在网上可以消费整个电影内容,所以20分钟、30分钟和40分钟的长度也不会显得太长。我们是在适当的时候出现在适合的地方。

    并不是谁都喜欢您对新闻的做法。您在朝鲜拍摄丹尼斯•罗德曼的镜头招来一些人强烈的批评。那时候,您的网站声称“朝鲜与丹尼斯•罗德曼和Vice是朋友。”您怎么回应受到的那些批评?

    首先,与任何国家的任何一种对话都有好处,尤其是在遭到攻击的时候。我没有得到进入朝鲜的许可,因为我在朝鲜制作了两部纪录片,还有一部没有在朝鲜拍,拍的是西伯利亚的奴隶劳工大本营,那些片子都受到朝鲜的严厉批评。Vice丝毫没有隐瞒朝鲜政府对我们的批评。

    Yet, while a lot of people are successfully building audiences on YouTube, many complain that monetization is still pretty challenging – that it's digital pennies, compared with analog dollars. Machinima, which you mentioned, recently laid off 10% of its staff. Is the same not true for Vice?

    For us, we're lucky in that we work with some of the world's biggest brands, and our capacity to sell outstrips our capacity to scale. We do things differently. YouTube's monetization issues are no secret. But what you can do is start making innovative deals at the brand level. A lot of online content companies fail because they don't go directly to the brand, they don't make unique or creative monetization deals.

    What's an example of this?

    Look at the Creators Project [a channel focused on the intersection of art and technology]. We made a deal at the brand level (with Intel). We're going to make content that young people are going to enjoy, and it is going to help your brand. Then we make that content. We exploit that content. We have a TV show in China, we have mobile in India, we license it to TV in 23 countries in the world, we create a YouTube (GOOG) channel. It drives subscriptions, and it drives millions of video views. Intel (INTC) is happy because they are getting more ads at more scale globally. We get paid for the content before we ever put it on YouTube. Those are the types of deals that you have to make. Brands want scale. They want engagement. If you just wait for somebody else to make money for you, I don't believe that's going to happen.

    And you are able to keep the editorial independence?

    Absolutely. We don't do branded content. We do content that is sponsored by brands. And that's no different than TV or radio or magazines.

    Is Vice profitable?

    Very. We have a rule that everything that we do has to make money.

    We are growing at 100% a year without our big windfall deals that we are going to be announcing in Q4 or early Q1. We're getting quite big, for us at least, in the dollars sense.

    YouTube and online in general is typically short form. You've had success with longer content. Why?

    Long form, I believe, is (viable) for the first time ever, because of bandwidth, because of young people consuming TV-length content online or through mobile or tablets. Gen Y people now consume whole movies online, so 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes isn't too long. We're in the right place at the right time.

    Not everyone is a fan of your approach to the news. You've been roundly criticized for filming Dennis Rodman in North Korea. Around that time, your site proclaimed that "North Korea has a friend in Dennis Rodman and Vice." What's your response to the criticism?

    First of all, any dialogue is good with any country especially if there's aggression. Look, I'm not allowed to go to North Korea because I did two documentaries in North Korea and one outside North Korea on the slave labor camps in Siberia that were harshly critical of the regime. Vice has made no secret of our criticism of the North Korean regime.

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