A lot of people are confused why major media outlets like CNN and HBO would put money into a “punk magazine” like Vice. In fact, many other media outlets don’t consider Vice to be “real journalism” and constantly criticize the company’s success. Maybe they’re jealous, or perhaps they simply don’t understand Vice’s audience and why they would be so entertained by Vice’s presentation of current news.

Either way, it leaves many people wondering why major media outlets would partner with Vice. But it’s not really much of a mystery. Read on to learn about Vice’s success and why other media companies are so interested in them.

What is Vice?

Shane Smith, Co-founder and CEO of VICEImage via Vice.com

Before you can understand why major news outlets are partnering with Vice, you have to understand what the company does. Originally launched as a “punk magazine,” Vice today focuses on a variety of media, including publishing magazine articles, producing films, publishing books, and recording music. While the magazine once covered indie artists, it has shifted course to cover more serious news topics.

The media company has a much different target audience from most mainstream media outlets, which means there’s little to no competition with these other media outlets since Vice is targeting readers who don’t care about mainstream media outlets anyway. As CEO Shane Smith told The Guardian, “Young people, who are the majority of our audience, are angry, disenfranchised, and they don’t like or trust mainstream media outlets. They’re leaving TV in droves, but music and news are the two things that generation Y in every country are excited about and interested in.” This view has reportedly brought the company 100 million monthly users.

Who’s Working With Vice?

In 2013, 21st Century Fox invested $70 million into Vice, but that wasn’t the first time a major corporation did business with Vice. Back in 2010, CNN aired Vice’s Vice Guide to Libya. Ezra Klein, a popular blogger from The Washington Post, even joined in the ranks with Vice, and Vice even has a partnership with HBO.

Why Partner With Vice?

Here’s comes the big question. Why are major news outlets partnering with Vice? The answer is simple. Vice is an influential platform that can reach an audience most news outlets can’t. As Rupert Murdoch of 21st Century Fox reportedly said, Vice is a “wild, interesting effort to interest millennials who don’t read or watch established media.” Vice produces a great deal of content on issues, places, and situations that tend to be neglected by what is colloquially called the ‘mainstream’ media.” Perhaps they’ve seen so much success because they’re straying away from “mainstream” and targeting a very different population.

But Vice’s “hip style,” which allows them to connect with the younger population, isn’t the only plus to working with this business. They also have journalists and reporters in parts of the world where others simply won’t go. By partnering with them, large media outlets gain access to their reporting resources. For instance, when Kiev streets exploded into chaos, Vice was there to deliver live-stream video coverage. In fact, they recently launched Vice News, which will allow them to broadcast breaking news by having reporters record live events with their iPhones, or even with Google Glass.

Most of all, Vice isn’t competing with other major news outlets, given that their audiences are so vastly different. By partnering, both companies get a bargain by being able to leverage each other’s audiences.

What Does Vice Get Out of It?

While there’s the obvious question about why major news outlets would care to partner with Vice, we also have to wonder why Vice would want to partner with them, too. The answer is simple. By connecting with major media outlets, Vice can piggyback off their extensive viewer reach to gain readers and expand Vice’s popularity.

Smith’s business model has been highly successful. Forbes.com estimates that Vice is worth $1.4 billion, and CEO Shane Smith is worth $400 million. That means the company is worth a whopping six times more than The Washington Post! As Smith says, it’s not about the money to him. “I’m worth more money than I can ever spend. The best piece of advice I ever got from anyone was when Spike Jonze said take money out of the equation. And that’s actually when Vice started making lots of money.”

The Bottom Line

The truth is that companies work with other business professionals they know and like who are also successful in their business ventures or show promise. Clearly Vice has shown that they have the potential to become as successful as CNN and other major news outlets. With such success, it makes sense that other people in the industry would want to partner with them, especially given that they don’t compete, making it easier for each media company to work together and reach a wider audience.

It’s not necessarily Vice’s audience or their connections to various locations where breaking news often strikes that attracts these other major news outlets, but Vice has proven time and time again that they’re able to deliver results, and shocking results at that. It’s because of their success in the industry—despite the tactics they use—that makes media companies like CNN so willing to work with them.

What do you think of Vice’s tactics for delivering news? Are they too far from “mainstream” to really call themselves journalists, or do you think they’re paving the way for a revolutionary shift in media that allows more millennials to connect with current events on a deeper level? Is CNN crazy for investing in a “punk magazine” like Vice, or is it a smart move on their part? Share your ideas about the company and its partnerships with other media outlets in the comment section.