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Vice Media: “In the longer-term, we see ourselves as being a platform for third-party creators”

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At the recent Web Summit in Lisbon, Vice Media admitted that in the longer term it sees itself as being a platform for third-party creators in a direct challenge to creator platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, BitChute, and others.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Alyssa Newcombe, Vice Media’s CEO, Nancy Dubuc, disclosed there were considerable barriers to entry for news content that “benefits only a small percentage of creators at the very top.” Dubuc added that creators don’t necessarily want to tackle the back-end tasks that accompany creating news content and that Vice can help these creators with publishing optimization, HR, finance, and sales.

Vice was the original creator economy in some ways, everything we do is created in-house. But it’s hard to create scaled video content that is financially viable and we can help with that.

Nancy Dubuc, CEO, Vice Media

The revelation comes at a time when other platforms are jockeying for position to become the creators’ platform of choice with Patreon’s CEO, Jack Conte, announcing this month that it was building a native video hosting platform for creators to ‘sidestep YouTube’.

We’re building the horizontal architecture for any creator, no matter their medium, or no matter the upload format, to be able to build a business around their work.

Jack Conte, CEO, Patreon

Spotify is also throwing its hat in the ring by expanding its video features for podcasters, driven by the large proportion of podcast content already consumed on rivals, notably YouTube.

As Chris Sutcliffe writes in the soon-to-be-launched Media Moments 2021 report, “It’s all an attempt to take back control of the environments in which video is consumed – and monetized”.

Younger generations are consuming news differently

Dubuc also fired a warning to legacy news media, saying that today’s younger generation is consuming news very differently from older generations, viewing it almost as a utility with a much broader perspective of what constitutes news itself.

The younger generation are consuming news very differently. They grew up with social media and want stories that interest them, by people who look like them, in a tone of voice that sounds like them.

Nancy Dubuc, CEO, Vice Media

She added, “Identity and climate changes were topics that we were covering fifteen years ago and so our audience trusts us to tell these stories now too. We knew what young people cared about long before anyone else.”

Answering the question, “Why does your audience trust you so much?”, Dubuc replied that the currency behind the success of Vice is its authenticity and the trust it has built up with its audience, allied to its status as an independent media company across 30 countries worldwide.

Authentic is a word that comes up time and time again across all of our brands, whether that’s Vice News, i-D, Refinery29 and any of our sub brands inside our portfolio. Authenticity and trust are key to our relationship with our audience. We walk the talk.

Nancy Dubuc, CEO, Vice Media

Dubuc rounded up her talk by saying that Vice Media’s base strategy was to ensure it remained audience-centric and that it would always bend to where the consumer is, even if that took the media company to diverse areas such as the ‘gaming or experiential universe’.

You have to be able to speak to your audience on their terms, especially the younger generation who have grown up with social media as the norm – their ability to curate and filter is huge. If you can’t talk to them in their language you are at an enormous disadvantage.”

Nancy Dubuc, CEO, Vice Media