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Bloomberg Renames TicToc News Service QuickTake, Partly to Avoid Confusion With Chinese TikTok App (EXCLUSIVE)

Bloomberg Media is dropping TicToc as the name of its two-year-old social-media news service, rebranding it as “QuickTake by Bloomberg.” The move comes as the media company preps the launch of an over-the-top streaming news channel in 2020, with the new QuickTake group merging its TicToc and longer-form digital video teams for a total staff of 80 dedicated to internet video.

Another reason for the switch: It will help Bloomberg avoid confusion between TicToc and the nearly identically named TikTok, a hugely popular and controversial social-video app from Chinese internet giant ByteDance.

“We obviously see the similarities of the names,” said Jean Ellen Cowgill, general manager of the newly renamed QuickTake by Bloomberg (and former TicToc GM). “The other TikTok has been there and has been a factor [in the rebranding decision], but it’s more about leaning into a new name that represents what we’ve become.”

Bloomberg is retiring the TicToc name effective Dec. 3, replacing it with the relatively anodyne QuickTake. In the first half of 2020, Bloomberg plans to launch QuickTake as a 24-hour linear streaming news channel available on OTT platforms. It will still produce and distribute on-demand programming across multiple platforms and publish a daily newsletter. In addition to live coverage, the streaming channel will include longer-form news features and mini-documentaries.

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QuickTake, like TicToc, will comprise original content that taps into Bloomberg’s newsroom staff of 2,700 journalists in 120 countries, “which we see as our true competitive advantage,” Cowgill said. The service’s handle will be @QuickTake on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, while TicToc’s existing YouTube channel will cut over to the new name.

TicToc by Bloomberg debuted in December 2017, billed as a reimagining of the 24-hour news channel with bite-size video dispatches.

Less than a year later, TikTok burst onto the scene. ByteDance, after acquiring short-form video app startup Musical.ly in a $1 billion deal, migrated Musical.ly users to its existing TikTok app in the summer of 2018. It’s now among the most popular social apps in the world, having been installed over 1.5 billion times, per research firm Sensor Tower. With the surge in usage, U.S. politicians have sounded alarms over potential data privacy and censorship issues given TikTok’s Chinese ownership, and the company is the target of a regulatory probe into whether it represents a U.S. security threat.

Bloomberg’s TicToc initially launched exclusively on Twitter. In year two, it expanded to other platforms including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon Echo, the web (at tictoc.video) and airport TV screens. TicToc currently delivers 90 million monthly global views across social platforms and other destinations, with an audience that is 54% U.S. and 46% international.

The business strategy for QuickTake remains the same as with the original TicToc launch, Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith said, but now the company is pooling resources to expand the reach among digital-native news consumers. “Existing global news providers still tend to be in the legacy, traditional media space,” he said. News “is still a very, very large market so that’s a really interesting opportunity for us commercially and to grow our brand to younger, next-generation audiences.”

“We’re in the top of the first inning in this OTT revolution,” Smith added. “We’re going to be very aggressive about making QuickTake a ubiquitous brand for this new consumer.”

The name is a repurposing of Bloomberg’s existing QuickTakes franchise, a series of explainer video segments created for business and financial users on Bloomberg Terminals as well as the name of a twice-yearly print magazine.

The new QuickTake group combines the existing 60-member staff of TicToc — spanning producers, editors, social editors, marketers and data analysts — with the 20-person Bloomberg Digital Video team led by executive producer Tre Shallowhorn. TicToc’s videos have usually clocked in at 2 minutes or less, whereas the Bloomberg Digital Video team has created longer-form social videos distributed on YouTube, Facebook and bloomberg.com that are 5-10 minutes long.

QuickTake will be led by Cowgill alongside Mindy Massucci, head of global content for QuickTake, and Shallowhorn. “We saw some pretty obvious synergies about what we were creating across the board,” Cowgill said, adding that Bloomberg is looking to make additional hires for QuickTake in 2020.

Separately, Bloomberg’s news operation is facing headaches in covering the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign. On Nov. 24, company founder and owner Michael Bloomberg officially announced his bid for the Democratic nomination. Bloomberg News plans to cover his campaign and other Democratic contenders but will not investigate Bloomberg, his family or his foundations and will extend the same policy to the other Democrats. However, according to editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, the news org will continue to investigate Donald Trump “as the government of the day” — leading Trump’s campaign to announce Monday that it will stop issuing credentials to Bloomberg News reporters.

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