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Bloomberg Is Expanding TicToc Social News Network Beyond Twitter, After Hitting Year-One Goals

Bloomberg Media thinks its one-year-old TicToc news brand has cracked the code on delivering bite-size chunks of news and analysis to a millennial-skewing mobile crowd on Twitter. Now it is taking TicToc to other platforms and screens — including plans to launch TicToc on dedicated apps and connected TVs.

There was no guarantee when TicToc by Bloomberg debuted in December 2017 that it would be able to get traction with the concept: a reimagining of the 24-hour news channel, with much of the dispatches delivered in 30- to 60-second video bursts.

But Bloomberg says TicToc has hit critical mass. Within the first 12 months, TicToc has topped 500,000 followers (currently, it has 516,000). Today it has around 2.2 million average daily views and 1.5 million average daily viewers on Twitter, according to Bloomberg.

“The aspiration is to be the news network for the next generation,” said TicToc general manager Jean Ellen Cowgill (pictured above). The service is capturing followers among “the new guard of business leaders around the world” in their 20s and 30s, she said: “What we’ve heard from them is that they are not necessarily being served well by the existing news brands. Dominant news brands haven’t innovated their editorial model fully.”

Scott Havens, Bloomberg Media’s global head of digital, declined to discuss financial results for TicToc. But he said the company’s goal for the initiative was to achieve at least breakeven profitability and that TicToc has “largely hit that mark.”

“When we first launched this, we had aggressive goals – we really wanted it to pay for itself,” Havens said. “Many of the other social-video news guys out there have had trouble hitting scale.”

Next up: Bloomberg is prepping the launch of TicToc’s owned-and-operated digital video platform early in the first quarter of 2019. That will let viewers catch up on the news for longer periods of time on larger screens and include some longer-form programming, according to Cowgill. And there’s potential to build TicToc into an over-the-top streaming network that could be licensed to TV and OTT distributors, and even a direct-to-consumer subscription service in the future, Havens added: “The old cable model is coming undone.”

In addition, Bloomberg this week is launching TicToc on video screens at major airports, under a new partnership with Reach TV. Initially, TicToc news will play on over 500 screens in some 30 airports in the U.S. and Canada, with plans to expand to additional airports in early 2019 including parts of Europe.

TicToc also has launched a daily podcast and a newsletter, and recently began distributing news on Amazon Echo and screens on taxis and ferries in New York. “We want TicToc to be there in all the different moments in your day where screens could provide something of value,” Cowgill said. She joined Bloomberg Media as TicToc’s GM in June, after previously serving as president of Atlantic 57, the marketing consultancy and creative agency of The Atlantic.

The company is keeping TicToc on Twitter (at twitter.com/tictoc) under its multiyear deal with the social network, but also has ramped up its output to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other digital platforms. “We’re expanding our wings,” Havens said. “There are other platforms and distribution methods to get the content out there.”

Bloomberg Media has staffed up the TicToc team with 70 producers, editors and social-media specialists across three bureaus — New York, London and Hong Kong. The editorial team is headed by Mindy Massucci, TicToc’s head of global content. In the first year, TicToc posted over 100,000 tweets and 4,000 live-streaming video sessions.

Whereas Bloomberg TV is focused on financial news and markets, TicToc is positioned as a general news source, covering topics including global news, business, technology, sports, culture and entertainment. All of TicToc’s videos are designed to maximize the screen space through data, text, images and video, packing in “nutrient rich” information on the day’s top stories, according to Cowgill.

Popular recent stories on TicToc include coverage of the unveiling of Elon Musk’s Boring Co. tunnel in L.A. and an explainer about how wealthy Americans have benefited from President Trump’s federal income tax cut one year later.

As TicToc moves into OTT space, the service will produce new original short-form series that run longer than the minute-long video length targeted on Twitter and other social platforms. The shows will include news recaps and features that are more evergreen, Cowgill said. But it’s not looking to have anchors for TicToc. “The traditional talking-heads model doesn’t work as well on social and digital platforms,” she said.

For TicToc’s first year, Bloomberg signed seven advertisers to one-year deals: AT&T, CA Technologies, Goldman Sachs, Infiniti, SAS, TD Ameritrade, and CME Group. It has landed about a dozen additional sponsors and is in talks about renewing the pacts with the launch advertisers for 2019.

TicToc in some cases repackages stories and video clips from the other parts of Bloomberg, alongside its original content. Havens said TicToc is reaching a brand-new audience beyond its terminal clientele: “TicToc was based on our hypothesis that we could have broader appeal” than Bloomberg’s traditional media properties, he said.

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