CNBC-Bloomberg fight heats up

Rivals battle for subscibers in growing market

SINGAPORE — America’s financial news giants are slugging it out for domination in Asia — faced with increased pressure from local players.

With a slew of new news channels in India and more viewers watching homegrown webs like Channel News Asia, more news is bad news for international networks operating locally.

“News is the sector I’d least like to be in at the moment,” says the prexy of an international non-news network in the region. “Things are tough enough in our space, but news is so cluttered.”

After a decade dominating the business and financial news segment, CNBC Asia Pacific has seen rival Bloomberg TV overtake its distribution figures in just three years.

With new deals struck in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, Bloomberg TV now claims 25 million homes in the region to CNBC Asia Pacific’s 20 million.

Describing China as “the world’s fastest-growing financial market” Bloomberg TV’s Brian Martinez says research shows a regionwide broadening of viewers.

“Bloomberg’s core viewer base has always been the serious investor, but more recently the channel is attracting captains of industry and business executives,” he says.

And with the battle for viewers and ad dollars becoming more hard-fought, relative newcomer Bloomberg TV and old-hand CNBC Asia are taking different approaches.

While both claim “unrivaled business news reporting,” Bloomberg’s multimedia approach (TV, radio and online) is significantly boosting subscriber numbers.

CNBC Asia Pacific prides itself on a longer heritage in the region and wider localization.

“While we are aware of newcomers, we are focused on building CNBC’s reputation as the network of record for business news,” says news programming veep Cynthia Owens. “We continue to work hard to make the channel more relevant to our viewers by covering top local and global issues” across a number of specific feeds like Nikkei-CNBC in Japan and CNBC India.

Bloomberg’s Martinez is undeterred. “Bloomberg feels there is much to be gained from doing business in this area. Current global uncertainty means there is a stronger need for investors to have access to up-to-date information about their investments,” he says.

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