The business and financial news produced and distributed by Bloomberg LP is consumed around the globe, but now the media company wants to ensure it is a bigger part of the information used by a growing consumer base in India.
The company’s Bloomberg Media unit has unveiled a new joint venture in India with Quintillion Media, a digital news venture founded by Raghav Bahl, an entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing CNBC programming to India and whose ability to build a network of TV channels has prompted comparisons with Rupert Murdoch. Under the rubric BloombergQuint, the two companies will produce TV programming, digital and mobile content and live events across India and deliver business and financial news to a population whose interest in such stuff is growing exponentially, according to Bahl.
Bloomberg has partnered with other companies to deliver its TV programming abroad, said Justin Smith, chief executive of Bloomberg Media, during an interview at the company’s New York headquarters, but this alliance marks the first time Bloomberg has sought a partnership to encompass multiple media platforms.
“It’s one thing to want to bring your brand as part of a global strategy, to have an outpost in a market,” he said. “It’s another thing to intentionally say we want to be the leading distributor in Indian business media over the next number of decades. We want to do that for digital. We want to do that for television. We want to do that for live events, and other platforms down the line.”
Under the terms of the deal, Bloomberg will have a minority stake in the new joint venture. Bahl and Smith declined to offer specific financial terms. “We will invest what it takes, within reason,” said Smith. The company has distributed programming in India through a deal with Reliance Communications that recently ended.
The pact shows Bloomberg continuing its efforts to reach beyond the core audience of financial-industry executives who use its famous terminals. It acquired Businessweek magazine from McGraw Hill in 2008, and launched a consumer-focused Web operation, Bloomberg Business, in early 2015. Under the aegis of Smith, even its U.S. TV programming has grown more ambitious – even though its cable network has not been rated by Nielsen since its launch in 1994. Recent program launches have tapped David Westin, the former head of ABC News and Joe Weisenthal, a popular financial journalist.
The opportunity as Bahl described it appears large. The executive cited a growing band of consumers who are becoming more financially literate who want news about local business as well as global trade developments. And he believes Indian consumers have a strong desire for a news operation that plays out on mobile devices as well as television. “Indian business media has gotten a bit caught up in older formats. It’s not that digital. Television is quite divorced from the way business plays out,” he explained. “The opportunity is to reinvent, go strong on digital.”
BloombergQuint plans to launch a new business-news cable channel, localized website and live events business in 2016, aimed at India’s business and financial professionals. The company has hired former CNBC-TV18 CEO Anil Uniyal and former CNBC-TV18 executive editor Menaka Doshi to serve as BloombergQuint’s CEO and managing editor respectively. Harsha Subramaniam, the Bloomberg executive who looked after Bloomberg TV India for the past five years, will supervise the partnership for Bloomberg across platforms.
The TV outlet, which is expected to launch several months after the digital-news operation, will feature some of Bloomberg’s U.S. programming, Bahl said, which will be woven into a schedule designed for Indian audiences. He suggested viewers might have a strong interest in coverage of the opening of the U.S. stock market, but vowed the programming would not lurch from Indian to English in haphazard fashion. Executives will “weave” a schedule together that includes local programming as well as Bloomberg content.
Bloomberg has nine different TV partners in different countries around the world, including Canada, Mexico, Middle East, Bulgaria, Turkey, Philippines, Malaysia, Mongolia, and now, India – and has expectations of finding more. The company’s Businessweek magazine is produced in tailored editions in Poland, the Middle East, Turkey, Indonesia and China.