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BW Businessworld

Upping The Game

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Bloomberg is moving to make Bloomberg Television India a more ‘premium’ product that will focus on long-term business trend stories rather than on stock market coverage aimed at retail traders. In an exclusive chat with BW about the business channel — a joint venture with the Reliance ADA Group — Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media Group, said Bloomberg TV has always positioned itself differently from market-based TV networks such as CNBC and ET Now. 
When asked why Bloomberg TV had been lagging behind in audience share, Smith said: “We want to be the business channel for business leaders. Becoming No.1 in viewership is not necessarily our objective. We want to become the most influential among the business leaders.” 
Smith, who was in India to attend a board meeting of Bloomberg TV India, said the agenda was to discuss product positioning; and the consensus that emerged was to make the channel more ‘premium’ in days to come. “Our partners agree that Bloomberg brings more premium global focus; rather than the traditional day-trader focus others have. We are going to double down on that strategy,” he said.
Before Bloomberg, Smith was in-charge of Atlantic Media, a 156-year-old hugely influential print and magazine company in the US. “When I joined, Atlantic’s print and digital audience was at half a million. Today, print is 400,000, while digital has soared to 25 million.”
At Bloomberg, the digital faces of and were merged two months ago to create Bloomberg Business as a new destination primarily for mobile use.  “We are exploring the possibility of Bloomberg Business India,” he added. 
Smith revealed that digital platforms are generating nearly 50 per cent of Bloomberg LP’s revenues. Advertisers, who earlier suspected digital formats, are now beginning to move their money out of print. What digital offers advertisers is better ‘targetability’ and ‘measurability’. “The combination of context, content and ‘geo-targeting’ is phenomenal, and that’s the Holy Grail; it is much better than buying an ad in a newspaper.”
Bloomberg Media Group, which accounts for a little less than 10 per cent of Bloomberg LP’s  annual $9 billion revenue, was carved out as a subsidiary in March 2011 putting together Bloomberg’s television, print, radio, mobile and digital media properties. “Our vision is to create the biggest global media company and capture the consumer in every stage of the media consumption cycle by surrounding him with all these platforms.”
He said newspapers like Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are print centric; they are moving to digital, but are hanging on to print. Competition is mainly from what he calls ‘legacy’ media and their business models are under pressure. “The idea is to disrupt the traditional newspaper and television businesses, and create the next generation media company; and the heart of our strategy is digital with Bloomberg Business as our flagship destination,” he adds.
(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 04-05-2015)