Reuters returns to video with online service

Thomson Reuters is preparing to launch a multi-million-dollar online video platform, in an attempt to differentiate its multimedia offering to professional traders and investors by integrating it with the group's existing editorial output and financial data.

About 130 people in New York, London and Hong Kong are being recruited for the launch this summer of a service that will both showcase an expanded video offering from Reuters News and provide a platform for partners such as research providers and other media groups.

The project, dubbed Reuters Insider, and other technology announcements planned for the coming months would represent the first wave of products launched since Thomson Corporation's acquisition of Reuters closed last April, said Devin Wenig, chief executive of Thomson Reuters Markets, the group's financial division.

He would not give details of the video project's budget, but said the group would invest about $1bn this year in new products.

Reuters Insider will distinguish itself from business video providers such as CNBC, Bloomberg Television and Fox Business News by being offered to professional subscribers rather than a mass market of private investors, as part of Thomson Reuters' premium desktop product line.

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

Mr Wenig said Reuters Insider would carry no advertising, but generate revenue by "significantly accelerating" the gains in market share the group has seen in an intensely challenging market for many financial services customers.

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," Mr 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 of Reuters News, said the initiative was a response to the demands of a younger generation.

The group has built a series of multimedia studios that will draw from former broadcast hosts as well as 2,500 Reuters journalists.

It has signed up about 30 content partners. Mr Wenig said Thomson Reuters would neither charge partners to appear on the site nor pay for their content. "They get their brand [in front of the company's 500,000 customers] and they get mindshare," he said.

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.

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