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“We’re seeing the shift of traditional to over the top”: How Bloomberg is appealing to the next generation and expanding its presence

Bloomberg Media is relaunching QuickTake, its short-form video content channel, globally as an OTT streaming product in November. It was originally launched in 2017 as TicToc (rebranded in December 2019 as QuickTake) in partnership with Twitter to produce breaking news and live event coverage on the platform. Since then the product has expanded to other social platforms, and currently has about 50M unique monthly viewers and 150M monthly video views.

The publisher is looking to get ahead of linear TV’s decline by getting into the OTT space. “The shift in consumption in business information, financial information and more general quality news information has decisively moved away from linear television to digital and largely social mobile platforms.” Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith tells The Hollywood Reporter. 

“Audience potential is huge”

It would be myopic for news publishers to think about just one platform, says M. Scott Havens, Bloomberg’s Chief Growth Officer & Global Head of Strategic Partnerships. 

You can’t just be a website, a social handle or a news network – you have to be everything because people have different habits, during different parts of the day to connect to the news. We’ve got 150M views a month on QuickTake and are moving into OTT.

M. Scott Havens, Chief Growth Officer, Bloomberg Media

“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,” he tells The Wrap. 

“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.”

Our internal editorial tagline or north star is “The world decrypted,” and we want Bloomberg QuickTake to be that for the next generation of business leaders and young influentials — that 20-something, that 30-something audience that’s effectively consuming their news and their video news on mobile, on social, and soon will be consuming it on OTT.

Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media Group

“Compelling content in the business landscape”

Havens is also critical of the state of business news in video. “I don’t think if you look back over the last 30 years that anyone could claim that media providers have provided the most compelling content in the business landscape,” he says.

“The average age for a lot of news programming and business programming around the world tends to be quite old. I think their programming doesn’t appeal and their tone and approach doesn’t appeal (to young audiences) and frankly the audience is busy during the day and using social to keep up on the news.” He thinks QuickTake can fill that gap. 

The publisher is investing substantially in the project – QuickTake will have a dedicated team of 100 video producers, editors and other staffers. It will launch with over 10 hours of daily original programming with plans of increasing it to 24 hours within a year or so. New programs at launch will include a weekly documentary series, Storylines, as well as a nightly news program called Off Script and tech series Hello World, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

Viewers will find QuickTake within Bloomberg’s BTV+ OTT app. It will be available in all countries where Bloomberg’s apps are accessible, on mobile phones, social platforms and connected TV platforms like Roku.

“Constantly evolve your business model”

In the long run, the publisher hopes to migrate QuickTake viewers to its owned-and-operated services like its app and paywalled website. “Most 23-year-olds, unless they are a banker or a trader or work for a financial firm, are not necessarily craving watching market coverage all day long,” Havens said in an interview with The Drum earlier this year. 

So if we are able to connect with them on a brand like QuickTake and migrate them into Bloomberg dot com and/or Bloomberg TV that’s a wonderful onboarding ramp for our company. That’s the strategy here.

M. Scott Havens, Chief Growth Officer, Bloomberg Media

“You need to constantly evolve your business model,” Smith told Newsonomics President Ken Doctor. “I mean, what we’ve been talking about here, basically, is taking a huge global business media company and turning it into a reader-revenue company, and turning it into a company that is playing in the global OTT, full video space.”

“Both eyeballs and ad dollars are shifting”

At launch, QuickTake will be ad-supported, relying on both direct sales and programmatic opportunities. When asked why the publisher is leaning into a new ad-driven model despite advertising’s coronavirus-led recession, Smith said, “If there is any part of the advertising ecosystem that you actually want to be leaning into for 2020, 2021, 2022, it’s this demographic on mobile, on social, and in video. 

“When things come back, as they will, I think that traditional advertising will probably suffer, and you want to move your business and your model to the place on the media chessboard where the dollars are going to be going.”

Obviously, both eyeballs and ad dollars are shifting, globally, to social video spending and to OTT spending. The transition of ad dollars in America and around the world to OTT, over the next five years, is staggering. It’s like $150B or something.

Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media Group

“Our view is that OTT is where the fun is going to be,” explains Havens. 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.”

If you’re not doing video and you’re not doing it on streaming, you’re at a disadvantage because that’s where the [advertising spend] is going to flow. 

M. Scott Havens, Chief Growth Officer, Bloomberg Media

“Recognize that the future is now”

“Our platform modernization is actually a growth area,” adds Smith. “Because you put a really compelling advertising offering by creating content and segments that live on the platform and that form sort of a brand space, brand unit on a platform. It allows you to actually challenge platform dollars, which can then be shifted over to a publisher.” 

The company also plans to explore other opportunities to monetize QuickTake’s content. It is looking into licensing deals, and QuickTake-branded shows on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

Jean Ellen Cowgill, the GM of QuickTake compares the 2020 rise of the coronavirus to the 2008 collapse of the economy. She said in an interview with TVNewsCheck Editor Michael Depp that the latter event may have helped speed up the death of print journalism. And that COVID-19 could prove to have a similar effect on traditional TV news.

“The responsibility that that puts on us, and on any publisher, is to prepare for the future, and recognize that the future is now,” said Cowgill. “We want to be where our audiences are today, we want to be where they are tomorrow, and we want to start to build a relationship with them there.”

“This is a moment when everyone is kind of up for grabs,” she concluded.

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