Coming off an April 20 virtual upfront for the Bloomberg Quicktake OTT network, touting new shows and additional distribution channels, Bloomberg chief growth officer and global head of strategic partnerships M. Scott Havens said the nascent service has moved well beyond a pandemic-hampered start last November.
Quicktake was supposed to launch in June, but it was tough enough to get going in November, with the pandemic limitations on studio staffing. Basically the service launched with a few shows and re-run them a lot.
“What you saw at the upfront was phase 2, which is notable-personality-driven shows,” Havens said. The new slate includes shows featuring NBA star Chris Paul, fashion expert Imran Amed and entrepreneur and marketer Scott Galloway, along with homegrown Bloomberg TV anchor talent.
“I’m working on several more right now, in contract negotiations,” Havens said of the celebrity or influencer centered shows, which he said can help a network get attention.
“We’re also kind of rethinking the news product and what does our audience want at what time," he said. "There’s a lot of excellent brainstorming going on to bring forward something slightly different from what you see today.”
“But we’re getting good audiences,” he said. “There’s a thirst for it.”
Quicktake is a streaming news channel that evolved out of TicToc, a short-segment news service that was initially hosted on Twitter and then spread to other social platforms. It was renamed as Quicktake on social media before the OTT channel launched and after the more famous, similarly monikered TikTok came on the scene.
Quicktake's programming is aimed at 25- to 45-year-olds -- "modern leaders" Havens calls them -- with short segments on business and politics and features on technology, innovation, sports, culture, climate change and personal finance, riffing off the news but not focused on stock prices or interest rates the way Bloomberg TV and the OTT version Bloomberg TV Plus are. It's a decidedly younger audience than Bloomberg TV or Bloomberg TV Plus draws. Following somewhat in the mold of Cheddar (Havens acknowledged it as an early influence), Quicktake seeks a path apart from CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg TV and also away from CNN or sports channels or long-form documentaries, Havens said.
The new programs, including one by Bloomberg anchor Francine Lacqua, demonstrate continued investment in content by the parent company. And the live channel currently has 7.4 million average monthly viewers and the on-demand videos have averaged 56 million monthly viewers between December 2020 and February 2021, according to Bloomberg.
YouTube Is Biggest Funnel
YouTube delivers the biggest audience for Quicktake, Havens said. “We’ve found tremendous success there” both in live streaming and on-demand views. Samsung TV Plus also ranks as a big source, he said. Bloomberg TV Plus got in early as a partner with Samsung, he said, and Samsung has become a major OTT platform.
Quicktake is continually adding distribution partners, the most recent being Amazon’s news app on Fire TV, Fire Tablet and Alexa screen devices, VIZIO SmartCast TVs and the car-top screens on Lyft vehicles. The broader list of outlets includes the Bloomberg App on Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV and Amazon Fire TV as well as on Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Rakuten TV, Tubi, Haystack News, Local Now, DistroTV, STIRR and News Player Plus.
The aim is to be as omnipresent as possible on a global scale, Havens, who came to Bloomberg in 2015 after stints at Time Inc., Atlantic Media and Conde Nast, said. “We assume everyone has a slightly different media diet, so we’re going to make sure that we’re everywhere you are.”
By year’s end, he said, “I will feel comfortable that we’re pretty much everywhere that you need to be” in the U.S. He said he is still talking to “one of the big Google-owned platforms” but otherwise has gotten Quicktake onto the necessary outlets, either now or in contract to join.
While some multi-pronged media companies have run into conflicts seeking carriage for new OTT services, Havens said Bloomberg has avoided them by being “open-minded and flexible on how we build this brand out and how we build this revenue model.” Some platforms want to retrain the whole advertising inventory, he said, some are not as forthcoming with data as a media partner might like. But at this stage, “we want to be more engaged with everybody than picking and choosing if we don’t get what we want.”
That might change if the Bloomberg properties gain more leverage over time, he said. “Quicktake in two years will have tens of millions of viewers and the power to walk away from platforms, if they don’t want to change their terms,” he said.
New Shows at the Upfront
At the upfront, Bloomberg talked up recent shows whose titles show the territory Quicktake is staking claims on: Next Jobs, Business of Sports, Behind the Design, Future of Work, System Shock and Moonshot, among them.
Chris Paul’s new show, co-produced with the Phoenix Suns star’s company and slated for this fall, is How I Got Here, a weekly one-on-one interview series with guests including entertainers, musicians, athletes and politicians.
The Business of Fashion (working title), featuring Imran Amed and also coming this fall, will use the prism of fashion to explore culture, human rights, sustainability and business topics.
The Prof G Show, featuring NYU Stern professor and author Scott Galloway, will see Galloway on a weekly basis tear into the taxonomy of the tech business with insights, commentary and humor, Bloomberg said. It's slated to start this summer.
Coming this spring is Morning, Noon and Night, featuring Bloomberg anchors Francine Lacqua in London, Kurumi Mori in Tokyo and Jennifer Zabasajja in New York, is a global discussion of the top stories of the day and how business, politics and culture are reshaping the competitive landscape, the programmer said.
Advantages For Advertisers
Upfronts are aimed at advertisers, and Havens said Quicktake has been growing its ad business after starting out with some charter sponsors including AT&T. “We’re selling more one-off campaigns and features and series sponsorships. We’ve sort of been layering it in post launch.”
Among the testimonials to Quicktake at the upfront was one from AT&T. “It is both social in nature [and] it’s an OTT platform. It’s finding different ways in which you can tell a holistic story in really different, entertaining kinds of content,” Megan Matlock, AVP of media strategy at AT&T, said in a recorded segment. “It allows us to really hone in and tell our own stories, and align it to really relevant content that our audience is craving and really engaging with.”
Havens pointed out that the audience is growing and attractive, and dollars have been flowing to OTT for reasons other than just the rise in viewership. “Essentially, this is better TV advertising, if the scale does show up. It’s more addressable, you’ve got more data to work with, you can do frequency capping and all kinds of stuff that you weren’t able to do with traditional TV.”
Quicktake is going to keep growing and expanding its programming, Havens said, and finding the best ways to tell stories, through analysis, headlines or big takes.
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