Friday, April 29, 2011

Bloomberg Grows Increasingly Relevant on the Media Landscape


Bloomberg LP doesn't get nearly as much attention among the chattering class as it deserves. When was the last time, for example, that you read on TVNewser something brilliant occurring on Bloomberg TV? Me neither. And yet Bloomberg -- by virtue of its high profile hires and its business strategies across multiple platforms -- is a serious media player.

For some time now, this blogger has been impressed with Bloomberg, the media company. As legacy media organizations carefully navigate the Scylla and Charybdis of this digital age, Bloomberg LP, which has a hefty war chest from the days when their terminals alone carried the day, is making smart, carefully calibrated manuevers. In January I wrote, for eMediaVitals:

Not long ago, Bloomberg's media segment accounted for less than 10% of the company's estimated $5.4 billion in overall revenue. Bloomberg's reevaluation of its business model came primarily as a result of the recession, which caused great uncertainty among many financial services firms, the main customers of Bloomberg's terminals. At that time, a startling 85% of Bloomberg's revenues came from the terminals. The financial meltdown of 2007 was a powerful wake-up call to think beyond terminals.

For a little over two years now, Bloomberg has been in the process of unlocking the potential of its multimedia businesses across different platforms.
Here are five particular ways Bloomberg is unlocking that potential across its various platforms:

Bloomberg Delivers Vital Content

Bloomberg generates and delivers a tremendous amount of content over Bloomberg Radio, on Bloomberg TV, at its two magazines, at (which is now, increasingly, partnering with blogs) and on its terminals to an affluent demographic that includes CEOs, thought leaders -- men and women with a high household income and net worth.  The media organization draw on a large number of locally-based journalists -- more than 2,300 news and multimedia professionals in 146 bureaus across 72 countries -- in an era where journalism is in jeopardy.

Bloomberg delivers vital content because the subject matter is actionable, it pays for itself, presumably making its consumers more money. Even as legacy media organizations are thinning their ranks, cutting back, Bloomberg has a strong position in video, audio, print articles, blog posts and reports.

Bloomberg Amps Up On Informed Opinion

If platforms like The Huffington Post and NewsCorp and MSNBC champion passionate opinion, then Bloomberg is becoming a serious player in the field of informed opinion. That dovetails organically into their philosophy of delivering vital, actionable content. Bloomberg talking heads are not partisan, they are -- if anything -- profoundly competent people. Bloomberg is building trust in the  From Keith Kelly's Media Ink:
 "Bloomberg News contin ues to collect talent for its soon-to-launch opinion section, bringing author William Cohan, Ron Klain, former chief of staff of vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, and Yale Law professor Stephen L. Carter, and a host of others on board to pump out opinion pieces for Bloomberg View.
In an announcement expected today, Bloomberg will launch the home of its opinionated bunch sometime in late May.

The Bloomberg View editorial board will include Michael Kinsley, the former Slate and New Republic editor, and George Anders, former news editor of The Wall Street Journal.
The move into the opinion business is just the latest expansion move by the business data provider, which years ago entered the business and general news game and last year jumped into the baseball statistics business.
Bloomberg View will produce daily editorials, columns and op-ed articles.

Michael Bloomberg, NYC's Mayor, who may or may not have a powerful behind-the-scenes influence over how the business is run, is well known as a non-partisan political pragmatist who hires the most competent people. The line where New York City begins and Bloomberg LP ends is sometimes blurry. And it seems as more than just an interesting coincidence that the company the Mayor no longer influences perfectly parallels his governing philosophy. The company's social media policy forbids advocating on behalf of a particular issue or agenda.

Sounds a lot like the Mayor. Just saying.

Bloomberg TV is more relevant than ever

The importance of Bloomberg TV during the day, on weekdays, when the markets are open is a no brainer. The weekends, however, have always been a bit of a dead zone for the company's television station.

Still, on Bloomberg TV, Political Capital has become as much a part of my weekend media diet as Meet the Press or Reliable Sources. The show's host Al Hunt, is socially as powerful as you can get in Washington society without a top cabinet position. Further, Monocle TV was/is quite interesting, if almost pretentious and highly stylized enough to merit an SNL parody. But that's not their fault, it is just their highly polished and supremely surfacy subject matter (which incidentally I find interesting). Laurel Touby, one of the most important members of the New York tech scene, recently Tweeted that she was talking to Bloomberg TV about doing something for them. Interesting and smart move on the part of Bloomberg if that actually pans out.

Bloomberg is aggressive, non-idealistic

Bloomberg LP comes out of the culture of business and delivers vital content, by and large, to businesspeople and the affluent. Successful business types and the wealthy are not particularly idealistic types. And because it is a part of the business culture, Bloomberg is an highly competitive organization. Legacy media news organizations like the New York Times, are not nearly as aggressive or as business savvy as Bloomberg LP. There was an idealism to old media and its editorially-focused business model that saw itself as a delivery device for noble journalism. It remains to be seen if there is even such a thing as a highly profitable business model in the digital age for noble journalism. Bloomberg, by contrast, it seems to me, is in the business of information.

Bloomberg is not just pragmatic and effective in its approach to delivering information, it is also deceptively aggressive. They are in the process of taking on the Forbes List, another business organization not know for its dewy-eyed idealism. They are not just taking on the Forbes franchise, but they are doing so with one of its overseers, Matthew Miller, whom they lured away. Hows that for capitalist tooling! From the Wall Street Journal (another organization not known for weak-kneed liberalism) in January:
"Bloomberg on Monday said it is hiring Forbes veteran Matthew Miller as part of an effort to expand its coverage of the wealthy. Mr. Miller will help Bloomberg launch a global rich list sometime in 2012 or 2013, though the details and exact schedule are still uncertain. Mr. Miller spent seven years at Forbes and was the editor for the Forbes 400 list and co-editor of the Forbes World's Billionaires list until 2010.

Rich lists have become big media franchises as publications compete to feed reader fascination with the money and lifestyles of the super-wealthy. There are now rich lists in China, the U.K. and Australia, with several more on the way.
In other words, the Forbes franchise is in serious jeopardy. Another example that Bloomberg LP is becoming increasingly relevant across all platforms.

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