Vice forges substantial content production partnership with Saudi-backed MBC group

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

The sweeping deal will see the financially strapped, youth-focused digital media company create Arabic-language content exclusively for MBC “in a wide range of lifestyle verticals, including food, music, fashion, visual arts and gaming.” , according to a joint statement. The partnership also 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 after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. They have now opened offices in Riyadh’s JAX cultural district.

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

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

Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc commented: “MBC Group is the leading media platform in the region, and we are happy to help broaden its reach as we highlight the vibrant emerging youth culture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where more than half of the population is under 35, and in the entire Arabic-speaking world.”

Vice Media Group, first launched in 1994 as a punk magazine in Montreal, now operates five main businesses: the digital group; Vice Studios, its film and television production unit; the international television network Vice TV; vice news; and the creative agency Virtue.

The company, which has been struggling to turn a profit in recent years, is reported to have been deadlocked in sale talks with Greek broadcaster Antenna Group.

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