Many news media outlets are embracing digital models to grab eyeballs and stay competitive—but even digital-first publications are struggling.
On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Vice Media plans to cut its staff by up to 15 percent, due to declining readership and revenue.
The company isn’t planning layoffs, but it will be merging some of its so-called verticals — sites focused on certain topics — said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Vice won’t be eliminating coverage of any news areas, the person said.
The Journal reported that Vice also plans to cut its number of websites at least in half. The newspaper noted that Vice currently operates more than a dozen verticals, including Vice News, Noisey, Broadly and Munchies.
… Vice Chief Executive Nancy Dubuc plans to move the company’s emphasis from those types of online content sites and focus on more profitable areas, such as its ad agency, Virtue World Wide, the Journal reported.
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The announcement comes as the media organization’s readership numbers drop—along with revenues.
A few years ago Vice was a media darling because of its ability to attract young male millennials to its content, which lead to investment from or partnerships with media giants like Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, and HBO. But in the last few years, Vice has struggled along with other new media companies. In 2017 it lost more than $100 million, and this year it is expected to lose $50 million.
Vice Media had 27 million unique visitors in September, down from 49.1 million in March 2016, according to Comscore. Vice Media’s total Comscore numbers each month are comprised of traffic from its own properties plus third-party websites like SEO-focused Ranker, Metalinjection.net, and ModernFarmer.com.
Per the report, Vice Media is expected to make $600 to $650 million this year, which is flat with its 2017 revenue.
Though Dubuc’s plans to slim down the number of publications and employees working on them aim to turn around revenue forecasts, the numbers aren’t a great sign as Vice fights for readers and a bigger piece of the advertising pie.
However, the organization is putting on a brave face as it cuts the fat.
At a time of seismic change across the media landscape, Vice has never been better positioned to continue its remarkable growth, further cementing its status as one the most impactful and innovative youth brands worldwide. From its deep library of critically-acclaimed programming, to its diversified revenue streams and channels across digital, mobile, television, film and branded content, Vice’s audience has never been bigger, more global, more diverse or younger.