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Thomson Reuters to launch video news service in June

Thomson Reuters will launch a video news service in June for financial professionals who use its terminals, part of a $1 billion plan to appeal to a new generation of customers.

The service, called Reuters Insider, will provide live and searchable financial markets coverage, analysis and breaking news.

It will not run all day, will not rely on advertising and will be largely unavailable to the public. Clients, however, will be able to access it around the clock. Paying customers will be able to access on-demand news segments in the same way people watch video clips on YouTube. They will be able to select videos on channels grouped by category, such as foreign exchange, equities or political news.

The project is part of a $1 billion programme to update the company's products and infrastructure to make them more appealing to financial professionals accustomed to using the Internet to get information.

Thomson Reuters has been testing the service since last October, and is launching it during a time of uncertainty for media outlets.

Many newspapers, TV stations and news outlets are losing advertising revenue as people get more news online, often for free. Some news and information companies may be forced out of business. Others are trying to figure out how to get people to pay for their news.

Investing during the global economic downturn, which has led to layoffs in the financial industry, is what the company must do to keep performing well, said Devin Wenig, markets division chief executive.

Reuters journalists are contributing to the programming, and Thomson Reuters is recruiting about 120 people to run it from multi-media studios in New York, London and Hong Kong. It hopes clients such as banks and investment companies will also supply video and create their own channels.

The new service is designed to give financial professionals news they can use to make trades and other business decisions, but does not replace news articles, Wenig said.

"To me, this is just Reuters News 2.0," he said. Targeting a narrowly defined, paying audience works better for the company, Wenig said. "This isn't infotainment."

Chris Cramer, former president of CNN International who is now global editor of multimedia for Reuters News, said: “The broadcast model, the cable model, is broken. At the moment there is no competition. This is something unique.”

Michael Stepanovich, managing editor of Reuters Insider, said it would rely heavily on “tags” about each video clip, generated from transcripts using software acquired through the 2007 purchase of a “semantic engine” called Clear Forest.

As well as channels for sales and trading or enterprise customers, he said Reuters Insider could be customised to track individual sectors, asset classes, regions, companies and topics, or an investor’s portfolio. “We want to be able to create a [Bernie] Madoff channel,” Stepanovich said.

Users will also be able to watch “highlights reels” drawn from different videos, find sections of video from the relevant passage in the transcript, or send clips to their BlackBerrys.

David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief, said the initiative was a response to the demands of a younger generation.

Reuters experimented with video a decade ago with Reuters TV but abandoned the initiative because of the high costs required before the web video era.


Chris Cramer’s blog post on narrowcasting ■

Financial Times