American news brand Vice Media Llc and The Times Group on Wednesday announced an “expansive partnership" that will see the global youth media brand launch digital, television, mobile and branded content in India later this year.

Both parties have signed a joint venture agreement, the terms of which were not disclosed. The deal comes at a time when Vice is expanding its television and digital services in more than 50 countries, including in the Middle East, Africa and South-east Asia.

The joint venture is the latest move by Vice to bring its youth-focused content to many more territories, mixing local and international news, culture and lifestyle programming to young viewers across online, television and mobile.

This is a key partnership for Times Global Partners, an initiative from the Times Group that supports the launch and expansion of emerging global digital companies in India. Times Global Partners has brought other media brands such as Huffington Post, Business Insider and Gawker Media, among others, to India in the last few years. HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint and the Hindustan Times, competes with the Times Group.

The partnership will see Vice opening a new bureau and production hub in Mumbai, creating original content to be distributed across television, mobile, digital and linear platforms in the region, a statement from the company said.

Vice will also launch Viceland as a paid TV network in the market. This will have both local and international and will launch next year.

The joint venture will also see the launch of Virtue India, Vice’s in-house creative services agency. Virtue will develop branded content for the Indian market drawing on the company’s extensive relationships with advertisers and innovative approach to creating branded content that seamlessly weaves content, audiences and brands across multiple platforms. According to a digital media expert who declined to be named, “Virtue could possibly be the cash cow for Vice as it enters India because branded content is where the money is."

“Vice will use all Times Group assets including Times NOW (its flagship news channel) to build the brand," said Satyan Gajwani, director, the Times Group. Vice will be ad-supported for its online presence in India, he confirmed.

Shane Smith, chief executive and founder at Vice, said, “I couldn’t be more excited to partner with Times of India, not only to bring Vice’s content to the largest millennial population on earth, but also to create domestic content from India’s rich cultural fabric and bring it to our networks in the rest of the world. India is perhaps the most fascinating and dynamic country in the world today and this joint venture allows us unique access to this fast growing media market," he said in a statement.

When it is launched, Vice will compete with brands like Quartz, the US-based Atlantic Media’s popular online business news brand as well as several Indian digital news brands such as Scroll, The Wire and The Quint.

Jay Lauf president and publisher for Quartz, which entered India two years ago, listed a few trends on the increasing focus towards the Indian news market. “The world and it’s economies and politics are increasingly intertwined so Indian readers want context on global news and the rest of the world is interested in developments in India—this will only accelerate," he explained in an email statement. “Like everywhere else in the world, Indian news consumers are shifting to digital and mobile consumption of news.This makes the market ripe for new publishers who are mobile natives and who take a global view."

Commeting on the announcement, Samir Patil, founder and chief executive officer of news site Scroll said: “It’s a pivotal year for online video and Vice coming in just shows the continued interest for the very large audience base in India. Given the rollout of high bandwidth networks in India such as Reliance Jio and others, this could have been a fillip for the news brand which is focused on video heavy content."

The Vice partnership in India will see the opening of local production studios, hiring of leading journalists and filmmakers, and the airing of tailored local news and lifestyle programming.

Vice enjoys a global reputation for producing quality video content for young people, forging innovative distribution partnerships with A+E Networks, HBO, YouTube, Snapchat, Sky, Live Nation, 20th Century Fox, Verizon, Canal+, Spotify and more to take its programming to young people everywhere.

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