Reuters Insider Notches Up the News Video Battle
Originally published at Outsell on May 28, 2010
This next-generation aggregated video-forward product provides a new model both for business news journalism — and for content producers across many sectors.
Important Details: Anchored in New York, London and Hong Kong, Thomson Reuters has just launched its Reuters Insider product. It’s a next generation video-on-the-desktop product, one that seeks to redefine news delivery for the broadband age.
Reuters Insider is designed to deliver “exclusive content for a finite, exclusive audience,” Mike Stepanovich, the product’s managing editor, told Outsell. That audience is the core Thomson Reuters enterprise market, the 500,000 customers worldwide whose access to Thomson Reuters news and data is paid for by the seat. The bullseye within the core: those in the financial services trades, those with “four screens open in front of them at one time.” Reuters Insider aims to become one of those four screens, a through-the-day-and-after moving picture of the business day.
The home page houses news of the day, and rows of video choices, sectioned by “research and analysis,” CNBC (a prime content provider) and lifestyles and offers other series and channel choices. Video programming is offered on both a scheduled basis, like TV, and on-demand. Currently, Reuters itself is producing 350 video segments a week, many of those segments already in usage at its various properties, but now brought together in Reuters Insider. In addition, it launches with 150 content partners — from Forbes and the Economist Intelligence Unit to JP Morgan, T Rowe Price, Nomura and Africa Investor. These partners aren’t paid for their content; they get brand exposure and distribution links to their content in exchange and in addition can restrict viewing of their content to their clients.
Among the features that suit the busy information customer:
- A small video window (which is expandable) at the upper right of the home page, allowing customers to listen to (and watch if they wish) the three-to-five minute video segments. One notion here: while it is video, the news value is largely gleaned from the audio of interviews, stand-ups and explainers, allowing a customer to keep listening to the patter while reading other content on the page.
- Contextual text content, demarcated between Reuters-produced content and other content. The text content is largely driven by the metadata tags associated with the video. Key amid the preparatory work done for the product’s launch was the speech-to-text applications that seek out business-oriented keywords, thus enabling the video/text links. The translations also produce transcripts, available as a tab along with the video; within the transcripts, users can jump to relevant points in the video by clicking on words within, a popular feature at launch.
- The ability to customize content several ways, a recommendation engine that will tailor content per user over time and social features for sharing.
- A corps of analysts and columnists, built in part by the Breakingviews operation, acquired in 2009. That acquisition added about 30 staffers; now more than 50 columnists and analysts help feed the product, as the company increases in interpretation of business. Three anchor studios, plus smaller satellite ones worldwide, enable video participation by Reuters’ far-flung workforce.
The product is currently open for free trial to professionals for non-Thomson Reuters customers who apply.
At this point, the company has not announced plans for how it may apply Reuters Insider, or its parts, to its newly redesigned Reuters.com public websites or to its agency syndication business.
Implications: The Reuters Insider product is impressive, a model of what can be done by companies recognizing changing digital habits, and the technologies that support them. What’s most impressive about the product is its aggregation, the sheer amount of content that it brings together in an intutive interface. Key here is the willingness to bring in non-Reuters content. While Reuters may have the largest news staff — 2900 — in the world, it acted on the realization that no news service is an island. It has been able to aggregate 150 content contributors — at no license cost — due in part to its first-mover advantage here. That move — smart aggregation of like content — is one that applies in many industries, from regional news to B2B to education.
Most fundamentally, of course, it recognizes that video is now mainstream, especially among its key markets, and a faster way of delivering market-making analysis, with the added benefit of enabling warp speed multi-tasking.
It will be intriguing to watch how Reuters applies the thinking of Reuters Insider to its consumer and agency businesses. In the short term, the B2B product is an in-your-face challenge to Bloomberg, Dow Jones and the Financial Times, all of which have been arming themselves for the expanding business news wars. In the longer term, the push toward video-first (scheduled and on-demand, and associated with text) and of meaningful-to-the-market aggregation is a model that many news companies must follow.