Kate Ward’s TV Diary

Kate Ward’s TV Diary

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There are no noisy Christmas parties to attend but, for Kate Ward, working from home is very far from quiet

This week heralds the final week of lockdown two, a week that would normally be the start of the Christmas party season. But this year’s end is eerily quiet. Quiet, assuming you don’t count the dulcet tones of my WFH co-workers: a six-month-old, a three-year-old and my wonderful (but very loud) husband. So far, so 2020.

The day begins with a catch-up with our team in India. I first got to know the Indian TV market over a decade ago, when I helped launch MasterChef there. Today, it is a big priority for the world’s streamers, as they compete for the attention and subscriptions of an audience of over one billion.

I joined Vice Media Group in November 2019 and was in India before the end of that year. We have an incredible team there, with several big, ambitious shows in production.

Today is entirely blocked off for the pleasure of viewing. This is something I try to do monthly. I catch up on all the latest episodes that Vice Studios is distributing or producing globally. I am still a total TV addict, so this is the part of my job where I have to pinch myself that I’m paid for the pleasure.

It’s very time consuming but it’s important to watch multiple episodes, not just episode one or a teaser. When I speak to one of our teams, I want to be aware of the whole story.

Today, I saw some fantastic reporting on extreme fans and fan culture from the Vice world news team, a satanic true-crime documentary series from Vice Studios, and While the Rest of Us Die: Secrets of America’s Shadow Government from Vice TV. Drink about 10,000 cups of tea. My toddler asks me if I “made any movies today”. No pressure…

A call with our distribution team and final sign-off on the renewal of our partnership with SBS in Australia. We have been working together successfully for two years, but this allows us to expand and deepen our relationship.

It’s a big commitment. Today, we spend an equal amount of time on the operations and workflows as we do on the content pipeline. Early on in my career in TV sales, I was told: it’s not just what you do, but how you do it. That’s so true.

Over lunch, I read the inevitable article about the best high-street Christmas sandwich and fleetingly consider Deliveroo-ing Pret to my house. Come to my senses and decide against it. But only just.

Lockdown is over and the first Covid vaccine is approved for use. Feels like a huge moment and an opportunity to fleetingly dream about a return to normal. Meet for a socially distanced walk with Kelly Webb-Lamb from Channel 4 in our local park.

I bring along my sleeping baby for a blast of fresh air as we trade tips on what we’re watching. The day zips by in a flurry of Zoom calls and I reflect on the fact that this is the longest period in my career that I haven’t travelled.

Strategic planning for next year is wrapping, and I’m presenting to my colleagues on the Vice leadership team. I present a deck that could do with some design magic (one of those “I made it myself” affairs) but which contains some exciting thoughts on how we begin to drive deeper collab­oration across the whole Vice Media Group and capitalise on our IP.

We start every meeting talking about what Vice content has inspired us this week. It is a great reminder of the breadth of what we do, from our advertising agency, Virtue, through to our digital brands.

I pick out i-D’s 40th anniversary issue, which I’ve been reading. We are developing a show with its editorial team. It has been an incredible experience, because they really are at the cutting edge of culture and taste forming – i-D’s motto is: “Fan, not critic”. I think that’s a great rule to live by.

Kate Ward is President of Vice Studios at Vice Media Group.