Bloomberg Aims to Compete Directly With British Press
Bloomberg Media has decided to aggressively court a British audience, the first prong in a retooled global strategy for the business news giant.
On Wednesday night, executives introduced a venture that they hope could generate $100 million in annual revenue: Bloomberg UK, a brand meant to compete directly with The Financial Times and The Sunday Times, staples of British business journalism.
Bloomberg UK will include a website, a weekly Bloomberg Quicktake video series profiling British newsmakers, a podcast about the City of London and a summit this year on the future of British business.
Bloomberg has been in the British market for three decades, but the new venture is a targeted approach to an untapped audience of at least seven million in the “professional, affluent space,” said M. Scott Havens, the chief executive of Bloomberg Media.
It is the first inkling of a new international strategy for Bloomberg, which has 176 offices that are home to its 2,700 journalists and analysts. By building up regional editions in promising markets where it already has an editorial footprint, executives hope to eke out new dollars without spending to establish new headquarters.
Bloomberg UK will use the hundreds of journalists who already work in Bloomberg’s London newsroom, which is housed in a state-of-the-art office building opened five years ago in the financial district. In an interview, Mr. Havens and John Micklethwait, the editor in chief of Bloomberg News, said their new initiative would require hiring dozens of journalists.
The company has in recent months hired the BBC presenter Emma Barnett as an interviewer for its Quicktake series; Philip Aldrick, a former Times of London economics editor; Olivia Solon, a tech investigations reporter from NBC News; and Alex Wickham, the editor of Politico’s London Playbook newsletter.
“To some extent, we’re kind of hiding in plain sight,” Mr. Micklethwait said. “There are other people trying to get into the U.K. market, but we already have one of the biggest newsrooms in London here.”
Justin Smith said he was leaving Bloomberg Media as its chief executive four months ago to start Semafor, an online publication aimed at English-speaking, college-educated readers around the world. He teamed up with Ben Smith, a former media columnist for The New York Times, who will serve as Semafor’s editor in chief. Mr. Micklethwait and Mr. Havens said Semafor, which is expected to start publication this year, had no bearing on the timing of Bloomberg’s global strategy.
“We’re not page-watching on that necessarily but wish them the best of course,” Mr. Havens said.
Mr. Micklethwait and Mr. Havens, who became chief executive after Justin Smith stepped down, jointly pitched the initiative as part of a broader strategy to Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of Bloomberg L.P., in December. He responded enthusiastically, Mr. Havens said.
Both executives declined to say how much the company was investing in the effort, but Mr. Micklethwait said Mr. Havens was spending “large amounts of money” on journalists, engineering and marketing for Bloomberg UK. Revenue at Bloomberg Media in 2021 was up 50 percent from the previous year, and it is up an additional 21 percent in the first quarter of 2022, Mr. Havens said.
Bloomberg Media has nearly 400,000 digital subscribers, four years after putting up a paywall on its websites. More than 40 percent of the subscribers are outside the United States, with Britain the second-biggest market, Mr. Havens said.
“At a time when the U.K. is at risk of following the U.S. down a path toward media that is hyperpartisan and highly sensationalized — and suffering the kind of severe consequences we have seen here in America,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement, “we are expanding our commitment to high-quality and fact-based journalism there, focused especially on business and economic news.”