Jul 19, 2022 - Economy

Exclusive: Bloomberg Media plots global expansion

Photo illustration of Scott Havens with abstract shapes and location icons.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo courtesy of Bloomberg

Bloomberg Media is planning a major expansion into localized coverage of different regions around the world, CEO Scott Havens told Axios.

Why it matters: “I believe we'll run out of runway on both engagement and audience size if we don't also go deep within the national and regional story,” he said.

  • If the company can grow its audience and engagement effectively at a more localized level, “then our financial opportunities will expand exponentially.”

Details: The company is beginning to assess markets with relatively high GDPs and areas where it has an existing footprint, including France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia and parts of Africa, beginning this year.

  • The idea is to strengthen the company's commercial opportunities in places where Bloomberg Media already has an existing footprint by creating customized versions of existing products, and some news ones, tailored to each region.
  • This approach will depend heavily on investments in technology, Havens said, including tech that can translate some of its global coverage to local audiences using voiceovers and digital text translations.

Some markets will leverage a similar strategy to that used by Bloomberg Media when it launched its foray into the U.K. earlier this year by hiring dozens of in-house talent on the ground to compete directly with the local press.

In other regions, the company will partner with local outlets on the ground to expand their coverage without having to make as serious of a financial investment upfront.

  • Bloomberg Adria, the company's southern European vertical, is partnering with Mtel Swiss — a broadcaster that's majority owned by a Serbian state-owned telecommunications provider Telekom Srbija.

Between the lines: The investment in localized coverage will bolster Bloomberg’s advertising prospects and consumer subscription revenue, Havens said.

  • Currently, the company is close to hitting its previously stated 2021 goal of 400,000 paid subscribers and has already hit its goal of $100 million in consumer subscription revenue.
  • The company is also starting to sell subscriptions on an enterprise level to bigger companies.

Looking ahead, it's working to build international payment and processing mechanisms to begin accepting localized currencies and it's beginning to actively market consumer subscriptions outside of the United States.

  • The company hasn't changed its pricing regionally yet, “but we're looking at that,” Havens said. “We don’t expect to be huge in India at $420 annually,” he noted.
  • Asked whether Bloomberg Media would consider bundling its subscription with other news outlets abroad, as it does in the U.S. with The Information, Havens said, “We are engaging with two or three conversations with publishers in other countries right now."

Be smart: Bloomberg Media has long been known for its business coverage, but it has widened its aperture since expanding into consumer subscriptions four years ago.

  • The company has launched a number of new verticals that have their own dedicated teams and products, including "Bloomberg Green" for sustainability, "Screentime" for entertainment, "Hyperdrive" for the auto and mobility industry, and "Prognosis" for health care.

The big picture: News brands are looking internationally for growth as the U.S. becomes more saturated. The New York Times, for example, reached 1 million international subscriptions last year.

  • Havens replaced former Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith when he departed earlier this year to launch a global news startup called Semafor.
  • Asked about Semafor's global ambitions, Haven said broadly, he's not worried about competition. "I think our global footprint is tough to replicate."
  • A spokesperson said total revenue for Bloomberg Media is up 24% year over year through the first half of the year, with much of that growth being driven by events.

What to watch: As the company expands globally, it's beginning to reorganize its team to be able to strike more licensing deals, particularly in video and events.

  • It recently hired Nick Sallon from Twitter as its first-ever chief partnerships officer to begin expanding the company's licensing partnerships. (Licensing was Bloomberg's only revenue segment that declined in growth in the first half of the year.)
  • Bloomberg Quicktake, the company's 24/7 global news network, was the company's fastest growing business line by revenue last year, Havens said.

What's next: The company plans to hire for a newly created position of chief revenue officer soon.

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