Vice TV General Manager on Why the Network Is so Into the ’90s Right Now and Plans for a ‘Dark Side’ FAST Channel
June is ’90s month on Vice TV. But based on its recent programming decisions, it could be argued that the cable network is currently in a perpetual state of ’90s month.
With the debut of “Dark Side of the 90’s” Season 2 on Tuesday and the July 12 premiere of Nacelle Company’s docuseries “Icons Unearthed: Star Wars,” Morgan Hertzan, Vice TV executive vice president and general manager, tells Variety that his team’s goal with this content is to reach the Gen X audience through its seemingly endless love for the era.
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“Obviously, a lot of media has focused on millennials, a lot of media is focused on the ‘Greatest Generation,'” Hertzan said. “We’re young for a cable network, we’re pretty young median age, as cable goes. And we really have that Gen X audience and they love when we do stuff like this. So we decided, let’s lean into that. Let’s do more ’90s content, more nostalgia content for Gen X.”
Vice TV is also developing what Hertzan describes as “a variety show or a game show, it’s kind of a little bit of both,” that is “centered around nostalgia” and includes a “really high-profile person” as its host.
In the meantime, “Dark Side of the 90’s” Season 2 will give Gen X-ers looks back at the rise of tabloid TV, “Cops,” the case of Mary Jo and Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher, “The Real World,” and MMA and UFC.
But in catering to the Gen X audience that knows these topics all too well, Vice TV is also able to tap into aspects of culture that are “truly iconic” for people who weren’t even born until after the decade ended.
“The ’90s was one of the last moments before true media disintermediation,” Hertzan said. “It was before YouTube, before Netflix, before hundreds of cable networks, and Snap and TikTok. So things became truly, truly iconic in the ’90s. And in general, at its best, TV connects generations. If you look at big mega TV franchises, it’s something you and your friends and your parents and your cousins can all talk about. And I think that the reason why the ’90s really resonate still.”
Vice TV is going to be diving into that phenomenon further with “Icons Unearthed: Star Wars,” which Hertzan says is all about taking “big iconic franchises” and “really telling the behind-the-scenes stories that the super fans love.”
Hertzan hasn’t given the greenlight to future seasons of “Icons Unearthed,” but “for sure” has given confirmation Vice TV has every intention of making more of the show.
“Absolutely,” Hertzan said. “We’re in the business of ongoing series and making high volume of things and building franchises. So we find content and it becomes a huge franchise for us — just like ‘Dark Side.'”
When it comes to Vice’s “Dark Side” franchise, the ’90s installment is alive and well. Fans are currently awaiting news on more seasons of both “Dark Side of the Ring,” the O.G. series, and spinoff “Dark Side of Football.”
For “Dark Side of the Ring,” Hertzan gave this update: “We are incredibly excited and supportive of the ‘Dark Side of the Ring’ series, as well as the ‘Dark Side’ franchise. And we are working as hard as we can to get as much ‘Dark Side’ content out to our audience as fast as we can. And we are eagerly excited to announce new seasons.”
For “Football,” Vice TV is “evaluating” whether or not to make a second season of that show, or go the route of making a “Dark Side” focused on a different sport. But Hertzan says “we’re definitely doing another ‘Dark Side of Sports’ franchise spinoff.” Options include “Dark Side of Basketball,” “Dark Side of Soccer” and “Dark Side of Tennis.”
“The ultimate goal of all of this” is for Vice TV to launch a “Dark Side” FAST channel within the next year. “We’re pretty close to having enough programming for that. We see that the audience loves this content and finds it wherever it is. So our hope is to soon be able to get to that critical number, which we’re pretty close to, to be able to launch the ‘Dark Side’ FAST channel.”
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