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Vice

Vice's food vertical, Munchies, is launching a verified channel on the breakout creator platform OnlyFans, a subscription site in which fans can pay creators directly for exclusive content, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: It's the first verified media publisher to launch on OnlyFans, which is known for hosting racy content. It's also Vice's second foray into any sort of direct-to-consumer subscription revenue.

  • Vice launched a pop-up newsletter in August that included a paid print mailer to support USPS, but to-date, it hasn't experimented much with subscriptions.

Details: Vice will be charging fans $4.99 monthly to access exclusive weekly videos. For now, the videos mostly feature up-close shots of food being made, giving viewers a very intimate look at the sounds and transformations of different foods as they're being mixed, cooked and prepared.

  • The company will also feature other exclusive content, like behind-the-scenes food prep shots and blooper reels.
  • In the future, Vice says it may experiment with other types of exclusive content, like videos with chefs, says Clifford Gulibert, executive producer of digital video for Vice.
  • Most videos on OnlyFans cater to intimate, and often racy, experiences with people. Vice's Munchies channel for now is focused on creating an experience with the food itself, but Gulibert says its approach may evolve as it learns what works best.

Vice approached OnlyFans about the idea earlier this year, after observing how quickly it was growing. OnlyFans was excited about the idea of having a verified publishing brand join the platform, and worked with Vice to onboard them.

  • "It's always great when there's creative synergy among companies and we can support each other," says Tim Stokely, the founder and CEO of OnlyFans.
  • "OnlyFans has 500,000 people signing up every month," says Gulibert. "It's something as a company we thought we had to try and experiment on it."
  • OnlyFans has verified Vice with a blue check mark next to its profile page, a distinction that to-date it has mostly given to celebrity influencers.

Yes, but: Gulibert concedes that Vice isn't expecting as high of a reach as the company would get on platforms like YouTube or Instagram, but says OnlyFans may help it create content that caters to hyper-loyal followers of some of its niche content verticals.

  • "Theres an intimacy whether doing something risqué or not," he says. "A platform like this is about deep interaction."
  • The company will be using its reach on other platforms to market the new launch.

The big picture: OnlyFans has had a breakout year amid the pandemic. Generally speaking, platforms that cater to creators have boomed over the past few months, as more people take to the internet to fill the void left from restrictions on real-world experiences.

  • The Munchies brand has also seen growth during the pandemic, as more people are staying home and cooking.
  • Munchies has more than 4 million followers on YouTube as of October, and video views on Facebook and Instagram have tripled and doubled since 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Be smart: Vice as a brand is known for taking risks, so it's not surprising that they're experimenting with something like OnlyFans.

  • The company has pioneered some of the most innovative journalism video projects in the past decade, including backing Dennis Rodman on a trip to North Korea and sending reporters to ISIS camps in the Middle East.
  • It was also one of the first news publishers to launch a licensed video series to a premium cable company, HBO. Today, nearly every publisher is experimenting with creating premium video to license to TV networks or streamers.

What's next: Gulibert says Vice is using Munchies as an experiment, and if successful, it will launch other content verticals on the platform.

Go deeper

Pornhub's video purge poses a legal riddle

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pornhub's removal of as many as 10 million videos Monday — a content-removal earthquake on a scale the web has rarely seen before — sent tremors through a tech industry built on user-generated content.

Driving the news: Following a New York Times expose of underage and nonconsensual content on Pornhub, Mastercard and Visa stopped providing service to the site.

Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The U.S. Omicron wave may be peaking, but now COVID deaths are climbing as cases continue to soar in most of the country.

The big picture: Omicron’s stranglehold in the U.S. started about a month ago. Its death toll — while almost certain to be smaller than previous waves of the pandemic — is only now starting to take hold, and deaths will likely continue to rise for several weeks.

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.