February 2, 2023

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Vice forms significant content partnerships with Saudi-owned MBC

2 min read

Vice Media Group has signed a significant content partnership with Saudi-owned MBC Group, the Middle East’s top broadcaster.

The sweeping deal will see the financially ailing youth-focused digital media company produce Arabic-language content exclusively for MBC “across a wide range of lifestyle verticals, including food, music, fashion, visual arts and video games”. in a joint statement. The partnership involves training local media professionals in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the MENA region.

Vice, which has been active in the Middle East since 2017, withdrew from Saudi Arabia in 2018 following the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. They have now opened offices in Riyadh’s JAX cultural district.

Financial terms of the long-term deal were not disclosed. But in September, amid ongoing negotiations, the New York Times reported that it could be worth at least $50 million.

The Times noted in September that Vice was covering human rights issues in Saudi Arabia while negotiating a deal with MBC. Now that it’s sealed, it will be interesting to see if it continues.

“Given Vice’s reputation for content and storytelling, we couldn’t have asked for a better partnership to kick off 2023,” MBC CEO Sam Barnett said in a statement. “We have no doubt that Vice will help deliver diverse content that will complement our current offerings at MBC,” he added.

Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc commented: “MBC Group is the leading media platform in the region, and we are pleased to help expand its reach while highlighting the vibrant, emerging youth culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – home to more than half the population. under the age of 35 – and across the Arabic-speaking world.”

Vice Media Group, first launched as a punk magazine in Montreal in 1994, now operates five major businesses: Vice.com Digital Group; Vice Studios, its film and TV production unit; Vice TV International Television Network; Vice News; and Virtue Creative Agency.

The company, which has struggled for profitability in recent years, is said to be in stalled sale talks with Greek broadcaster Antenna Group. There is speculation that the deal with MBC could help drive up its price with different bidders.

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