Vice co-founder and chief executive Shane Smith warned of a forthcoming digital media “bloodbath” at Edinburgh International Television Festival.
Smith discussed the prospect of selling up to a larger media company in an attempt to survive the hard times ahead for media companies, having already secured around $4.5bn in investment from Disney, Fox and WPP.
His comments stem from over reliance on Facebook’s link sharing equipment, which has created a need to boost traffic levels to compensate for falling online advertising, to which Vice has countered through the launch of its own pay-TV channel on Sky imminently.
“At one point or another, Time Warner tried to buy us, Fox tried to buy us, Viacom tried to buy us,” commented Smith.
“What we’re seeing happen is consolidation in mainstream media and a lot of new media is going to go away. There’s just not enough money.”
Disney, which currently owns a 18% stake in the company, is thought to be the most likely contender to purchase the company following its investment in late 2015, although Smith was fast to allay fears that a potential takeover would affect Vice’s edgy brand.
“They don’t want to make Vice Disney. They want to give us autonomy to make their mistakes and be their laboratory,” Smith added. “If it makes sense for them it makes sense for us.”
Smith also predicted large mergers by big US media groups, as well as traditional media and telecoms companies snapping up digital start-ups in the wake of the Verizon/AOL acquisition.
“In the next six months everyone is going to try to buy everyone else. And we’re going to sit there and laugh our heads off.”