Vice Media, the Brooklyn-headquartered digital media and broadcasting company launching in India, wants to create credible local content across platforms for the youth. Hosi Simon, chief executive of Vice (Asia Pacific), shares the road map with Arnab Dutta Edited excerpts
How different is the market here?
While many judge India’s market potential in terms of its size, it is a lazy way to judge the market. The numbers are interesting but its diverse culture makes India the most interesting market. Most of us are only scratching the surface. This offers a great opportunity to Vice. The media and content space is undergoing a transformation. A competitive marketplace is good for the industry.
What is your content strategy and target group?
We are not here to bring Vice to India. We want to create a local media company that has relevance. Our stories will be for Indians, by Indians and about Indians. At least 70 per cent of our content will be local. People aged between 16 and 24 years are developing an opinion about the world and gaining their own voice. We want to provide that platform. Stories from India will find audience in the rest of the world. India’s youth will have a profound role in the world of internet in the coming years.
How do you plan to keep the business going, given that cost per impression is low here?
Leveraging all our verticals such as the agency for branded content and partnerships for television and and digital. Our approach is to first develop premium intellectual properties. Once you earn credibility, different revenue streams open up. We are successful not only because of our content but also because we know how to run a business. I expect Vice India to break even in a year. But our long-term goal is to be the number one youth media company in India.
What are some of your key learnings so far ?
We have changed the user interface over time after we realised that in India there are a number of teachers who have never used a PC.
But they are familiar with smart phones. So we have changed a lot of the interface to adapt to this.
Second, we have the content so why not make it available in other ways directly to children. We have now put the content on tablets used by students at home. We have created a series for Tata Sky. We will soon be launching an online content channel of our own. We want to try and reach around 10 million students by 2025. We are currently at 4 million.
What is Vice’s plan to counter fake news?
Across the world unscrupulous voices are being encouraged and we want to work against that false narrative. We want to offer a platform for voices that are not being heard by focusing on ethics. We would like to provide financial support for research on stories that others may not be willing to give. Trust is the most important thing for any media company and being transparent is very crucial.