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Vice and Refinery29 to launch localised platforms in Australia

Youth-focused publishers Vice and Refinery29 will publish localised versions of their content in Australia under a new deal with Pedestrian Group.

The new deal will see Vice and its sister publication Refinery29 operate as separate websites within the Pedestrian Group, which also publishes PedestrianTV, Business Insider and Gizmodo in Australia. Vice’s TV digital channel, which is run by SBS Australia and Vice World News in Australia and New Zealand is not part of the deal.

Why is the deal happening now?

  • Vice has operated in Australia since 2014 but has been hemorrhaging staff over the past two years, going from 50 to just two employees in June 2020.

  • “We know that not all young Aussies are the same. They do not want the same type of content. When we push into those different areas, we get a great response,” Matt Rowley, the chief executive of Pedestrian Group, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

  • “From a business perspective, you need to make the commercial reality become true so it becomes self-sustaining. I’m confident that we can make these brands work in a sustainable way because we’ve got that scale of offering in our commercial team.”

  • He added: “About a year ago we started looking at the portfolio and thinking about where we needed to go and where the gaps were for us. Those two properties – Vice Australia and Refinery – they do very different things to what we have in the portfolio.”

Why does this matter?

  • The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a shift in digital advertising spend toward Google and Facebook, hitting titles such as Vice.

  • In Australia, HuffPost Australia, Vice and BuzzFeed have struggled. BuzzFeed shut its Australian news division and 10Daily, a local lifestyle website owned by ViacomCBS, closed in 2020.

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