With this week's initial launch of an HD version on Time Warner Cable systems in New York City and northern New Jersey, Bloomberg Television continues to put its strategy to reach a broader business audience into sharper focus.
Adding more data to the screen, Bloomberg HD is slated for rollout on the No. 2 cable operator systems in the business capital of the U.S. on May 11 on channel 730, supplementing its standard-definition version on channel 30 there.
Set up as a J on the right-side of the screen, the HD wing, according to James Cofer, head of distribution for Bloomberg Television, Americas, will house rates, data and an array of market business information from Bloomberg's global news and financial information organization, on the right column.
More information will also be integrated into the horizontal ticker at the bottom of the screen. Bloomberg HD will also feature color-coded charts, graphs and company metrics as well as real-time pricing information for U.S. and international markets.
When everything is factored in, Bloomberg said its HD service will offer more data and information on the screen than its nearest competitor, with a simple, clear design that allows viewers to quickly gain insight on the markets and top stories.
"Adding Bloomberg HD to our growing line-up of over 175 HD channels - the best and biggest HD line-up in New York City - makes great sense, especially considering our market," said David Gray, Time Warner Cable East regional vice president of marketing. "Bloomberg's new wider screen format also offers our customers richer content."
What Time Warner Cable subscribers will see come Wednesday is the result of constant tweaking over the past year or so and extensive focus group testing. "The idea is to give them more information that's not overwhelming," said Cofer.
"In our research, people said, ‘Give us more data and details. Make it easy to understand, but go deep.' We have to find that balance," said Andy Lack, CEO, Bloomberg Media Group, Bloomberg L.P. He added that process will continue after the product launches and viewer response is gauged.
Asked about the impact Bloomberg's HD channel will have considering that competitors CNBC and Fox Business Network have been playing this enhanced screen game a lot longer, Cofer replied: "We're benefiting from our research. Our company's resources make this a product that stacks up with anyone's."
As for future launches, Cofer said there would be HD rollouts with large distributors, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks over the "next two, three, four quarters. We're having conversations with everyone," he said. The HD channel, which became available on April 25, gives Bloomberg "an opportunity to talk with distributors whose contracts are winding down, as well as those in the middle of long-term deals."
In addition to HD, Cofer said Bloomberg, whose standard-definition channel counts some 70 million homes via affiliate pacts with all major carriers, wields video-on-demand content and a speaker program that have been attractive to distributors. As to the former, Bloomberg has created a library of 6- to 8-minute segments on a number of personal finance categories that have been deployed by Cablevision, Mediacom, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Dish, DirecTV and Comcast, among others. Relative to the Idea Exchange speaker series, Bloomberg supplies a guest lecturer versed, say in social media marketing, who has appeal to area businesses. In turn, hosting distributors then use this program as forum to pitch their business services packages to prospective clients. Distributors exchange promotional value to Bloomberg in return for access to the attendant speaker.
Its enhanced data elements aside, the HD service will shine a spotlight on Bloomberg Television's worldwide coverage, which re-launched in February 2009 as a single English-language channel airing 24 hours daily. It now reaches 270 million households globally.
Since then, it has hired Margaret Brennan (from CNBC in June 2009), Andrea Catherwood (in London from ITV during October 2009), Margaret Conley (in Shanghai from ABC News in September 2010) and Emily Chang (in San Francisco during September 2010 from CNN).
All told, Bloomberg has more than 2,300 news and multimedia professionals at 146 bureaus in 72 countries. This team provides a breadth and depth of coverage, which tracks the markets and business developments overnight (Stateside) from Asia and Europe, which the company believes gives it an edge on others in the space.
\"We're watched by financial professionals, business travelers and aspiring executives around the clock," said Lack, pointing to in-depth coverage on the ground from China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and Russia, among other markets.
Lack also believes its San Francisco bureau, home to 65 reporters, new studios and the Bloomberg West show that launched in February, makes its West Coast coverage stand out. "We have more resources out there than anyone else. San Francisco delivers very important programming for us in terms of covering Apple, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, Twitter, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook," he said. "These are companies shaping the way we communicate and our culture and have large market caps that interest our core viewers, while also appealing to many newcomers to the business."
Bloomberg Television wants to bring those and other viewers into the fold, extending its reach beyond the core constituents of C-suiters, financial executives and business professionals (according to 2010 Mendelsohn Affluent Study, Bloomberg Television viewers have the highest personal income and highest average home value among all cable networks in the U.S.)
"The consumer space is starting to grow [for us]," said Lack. "From the perspective that [more general] business news intersects with the data and information Bloomberg provides, we want to make our brand more accessible to a larger audience."
Along those lines, Lack is looking to deploy more on-air reporters, anchors and personalities, including talent from Bloomberg Business Week, especially in the areas of tech, sustainable energy and personal finance. The network also plans to incorporate "Bloomberg View," an op-ed element currently part of Bloomberg News and Bloomberg.com into its telecasts within the next 30-60 days.
The formation of the Bloomberg Media Group in March places all television, magazines, radio, mobile and digital media assets under one umbrella, opening up cross-platform buys.
"It helps us reach viewers/users on a market basis, enabling clients to get involved in Business Week, Bloomberg West or our market close show from London [Last Word with Andrea Catherwood]," said Lack. "We want to provide opportunities that make the most sense for clients."
Yes, but wouldn't that task be made easier if the network was Nielsen-rated? Lack says the company has been focused on reshaping its coverage and the HD launch over the past two years. "Down the line we'll be measured by Nielsen," he said. "Right now, I'm less interested in the date than getting the content right."
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