Media analysis: Business broadcasters ride boom

Today's finance professionals demand news as it happens all day long, and with business broadcasters' audiences up by as much as 300 per cent in five years, supply is emerging to match demand.

Although broadsheets have long been scattered around the offices of big businesses, TVs with financial news blurting out as it happens have now become essential in the office, on trading floors and in the homes of finance players.

Bloomberg TV, which has ten channels, including one in the UK, launched in 1994 and in 2003 reached an average of 678,000 viewers a day in Europe (European Media and Marketing Survey 2003), up from 152,000 in 1999. CNBC Europe followed in 1998 with its English language pan-European channel, which now has a monthly reach of 5.25 million viewers across Europe and 1.2 million in the UK (EMS 2003).

Viewing outside the home

Significantly, these figures do not take into account viewing outside the home, which CNBC Europe director of news and programming Jeremy Pink says accounts for much of its actual audience, with people watching in the office, in hotels and on the trading floors.

Pink says the increased audiences are a combination of natural growth for a relative newcomer - with distribution of CNBC Europe up 33 per cent since July 1999 - and the reflection of an economic recovery that is feeding viewers' appetites for financial media. He says TV ratings have shown a recovery similar to that of the financial press.

Potential competitors such as CNN and the terrestrial news channels cover finance news, but it is comparatively limited and does not reach such a specialist business audience.

Because many viewers need to access information as quickly as possible in the most convenient manner, financial TV rarely acts in isolation.

The TV channel operates as one key part of a multi-platform approach that can include the internet, radio and the press to create a library of information.

Bloomberg assignment desk editor Jack Reed says TV coverage can be stored and watched at the convenience of the viewer.

'We've launched a new function called Live Go. Users can watch live, uninterrupted analyst briefings, press conferences, presentations and speeches, which are then available on demand after the event,' he says.

'The Bloomberg terminal remembers everything, making it a vital research and analysis tool.'


Jack Reed assignment desk editor

How will you use a guest that appears on Bloomberg TV?

'Bloomberg news disseminates information on lots of different platforms, from the Bloomberg Professional terminal and wire service to TV, radio and the press. We use interviews and news on as many of these platforms as possible. It is a very complex operation - if we do an interview on the UK channel, it could also be broadcast in the US and Asia. The quotes would be used in print and on radio and would also appear on Bloomberg terminals for traders - we are agnostic in terms of platforms.'

What are the hotspots in your schedule?

'Our flagship shows are from 5-9am, 4-5pm and 7-8pm London time. These are our strongest shows, the ones we shower with the most resources and for which we use the strongest guests: CEOs, fund managers and people whose views move the financial markets. We are unbeatable in the morning at breaking news.'

What happens if a big story suddenly breaks?

'Our reporting structure is nimble enough to allocate our resources to the big stories as required, but we strive to be the most definitive source on all the most important stories of the day.'

Who should PROs approach to get their clients' views across?

'Our segment production team in London, headed by Laura Chapman, books guests and handles requests for interviews. We are big on planning. With CEO interviews and companies reporting earnings, we try to work two to three weeks ahead if we can.'


Who watches CNBC Europe?

'Our audience sits across three tiers - CEOs, people working in financial services and markets, and general investors. It reaches all of Europe, all three tiers and all at once. It's a very powerful audience and it's very smart and engaged. Not only do CEOs appear on CNBC Europe, they also watch it.' What are the key times guests want to appear at?

'On our morning Squawk Box Europe programme, we've had people such as WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell and Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts as guest hosts. In the morning, Europe's the only game in play - Asia's over and the US is asleep. They come on CNBC Europe because they know everyone is watching them.'

Are your strengths in news or analysis?

'We have incredible infrastructure to break news across Europe, but what sets us apart is the tremendous amount of analysis. We don't just report what happens, we'll also get the CEO to explain why and how it happened.

It becomes a forum. The audience feels it's eavesdropping on very powerful people.'

How do you balance depth with the quantity of stories?

'There is tremendous scope because we broadcast 24 hours a day. There are certain stories we'll cover every day, such as the markets. But look at the Ryanair story, for example, in which the European Commission ruled it was using illegal landing discounts: on the day of the findings we covered that story extensively. On other days we might cover ten to 15 stories.'

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