”Traditional TV doesn’t have the power of digital,“ M. Scott Havens, Bloomberg’s global head of digital and media distribution, says
Bloomberg is beefing up its OTT strategy with the launch of Bloomberg TV+, a new streaming news network.
Different from TicToc, its 24/7 social news network launched in 2017, Bloomberg TV+ will target a more financially-focused audience and will serve as a testing ground for programming that aims to attract viewers during prime-time hours.
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M. Scott Havens, global head of digital and media distribution at Bloomberg Media, talked to TheWrap about the new venture, explaining its genesis and how Blomberg will leverage the platform to make future content decisions.
Why launch Bloomberg TV+?
When we look forward at the new opportunities for us, we try and figure out where is the business opportunity and where is the customer need. And for this, we felt like there was both. It’s increasingly obvious that executives have ample access to news, headlines, and information, but they are looking for utility around the news. Our audience are heavy financial executives and business executives and they thrive on being able to take out the key data points.
And so we wanted to bring more of that data to the screen and physically, from a real estate perspective, we’ve done that. There’s more news headlines and more contextual data on the screen. So if there’s a hearing in Washington about platforms like Facebook and Google, we can show stock data and other information in an automated way.
And then there’s a business opportunity here. Our view is that OTT is where the fun is going to be. It’s going to be where the action is for the next decade or two. There’s obviously lots of evidence of that as cord-cutting increases and as new platforms launch. And in my view, a lot, if not almost all, of the real digital advertising growth is going to be in video, and it’s going to be increasingly on these OTT platforms, which is a much more native place for these ads to run.
There’s nothing fundamentally broken with watching linear TV programs, but traditional TV doesn’t have the power of digital. Whether it’s data, connectivity, personalization and customization, or discoverability there are so many things that digital brings to television and programming that will be driving the industry forward. So we wanted to be on that and that really led to Bloomberg TV+.
Can you give me an example of how digital will help Bloomberg reach more viewers?
The metadata that you can provide to platforms, whether it’s Apple TV or others, so that certain programming can be easily accessed [is key]. There’s a lot more of that when you’re talking about digital or an app-based platform than on traditional linear TV. If the platform knows that you like the New York Mets, anything Bill Gates has to say, and anything related to southern cooking, they can direct the viewer to those specific pieces of content in a way that allows them to jump in and out of different networks, VOD, and live.
How amazing is that? Because there is so much content, and it’s very difficult to find it all. In the traditional world where we have cable or satellite bundles, you’re just relying on the electronic information guide to find out, ‘Oh, there’s the show somewhere.’ It’s just so traditional. Digital just provides more power for users to find what they want.
How does Bloomberg TV+ differ from the company’s 24/7 digital network TicToc?
The difference between TicToc and Bloomberg TV+ is more about the audience and the content. The reason we launched TicToc was to create what we consider the first social global news network that is in a data-driven, objective way reaching the new guard. So that was a general interest play for the 20-and 30-somethings who are moving into more senior positions in their career than those who are intellectually curious and want to know what’s happening in the world.
How much original content is exclusive to Bloomberg TV+, and what are the future plans in that department?
We don’t have any original content on the service right now, but starting in September, we’re rolling out four shows that will revolve around health care, the future of transportation, and other big moon shots and interesting ideas that companies are embarking upon as well, like the future of space exploration.
These are either shows that are more aligned with the broader Bloomberg.com audience and are being built by the digital video original team. We’re excited to start rolling that out this fall and see what the impact is on our audience and to see if the shows are resonating versus the programming we might do today on TV.
It’s a way for us to test and learn and see how much investment we want to put in. A lot of the viewership of a Bloomberg TV or a CNBC is going to be during market hours. People are watching the market intently, not just professionally, but those who have a personal interest. So it has always been a challenge at prime time to get users to a business news channel and we think some of the new programming for Bloomberg TV+ will be a draw to get people to tune in.
Do you have an estimate of the potential new audience the service will bring in a year’s time?
We don’t really, to be honest, and we probably wouldn’t share those yet. I’ll tell you from a sort of a macro level, there is an increasingly huge audience that is consuming programming through OTT platforms, and obviously we’re seeing the shift of traditional to over the top. So we’re optimistic that the audience that we’ve had on traditional cable and satellite TV on Bloomberg TV has the opportunity to be far bigger, especially with younger audiences who aren’t tuning in to traditional TV. If you look at the 18-to-35 demographic, they’re not spending a lot of time on traditional television networks or through traditional television distribution vehicles like cable and satellite. So that audience potential is huge.