March 8, 2018
In a wide-ranging conversation with Digiday’s Sahil Patel, Havens explained that TicToc by Bloomberg – the first and only global news network built for Twitter, launched two months ago – was built with the continuing sea-change in how people consume news very much in mind.
“TicToc takes into consideration how consumers have shifted toward mobile news, toward Twitter for breaking news, and the fact that in this ecosystem, [younger audiences especially] are not going to get things traditionally as they have in the past,” Havens said. “It truly is a next-generation news network.”
The content that audiences respond to, and want to share, is different than it is for broadcast or even online video, he added – and requires a very different approach. For starters, TicToc doesn’t use traditional television anchors. “We feel like on a mobile phone, seeing one or three talking heads on a screen doesn’t translate,” Havens said. “We’d rather put information and data on the screen about what’s happening – so that with or without sound, you get the sense of what’s going on.”
Another key difference is that the new network “is not trying to fill 24 hours in traditional linear fashion,” Havens said. “We’re going to go live when we need to be live – when there’s breaking news,” he added. When there’s not something that needs to be talked about in a live way, audiences get bite-sized information on a variety of trending general news topics.
Live streams pull in related Twitter activity and have attracted in the neighborhood of 1 million viewers for some events (average viewership has been about 750,000 daily viewers). Outside of live, Havens said that “graphical videos that people want to share” on topics such as iPhones, recent SpaceX rocket launches and times of high market volatility have generated reaction and interest.
And perhaps most importantly, news on TicToc is both immediate and factual – a true differentiator in an age where trust in news gathered via social media is at a premium. TicToc achieves that, Havens said, through deep collaboration across Bloomberg’s expansive global news operation. “We have 2,700 journalists in 120 countries,” Havens observed, “and we already have a television news network around the world – cameras, feeds, all the broadcast infrastructure.” While the Bloomberg News organization is focused on business news, it is also instrumental to the unique DNA of TicToc, which covers general news, a first for Bloomberg.
Havens cited Bloomberg’s dedicated Social Velocity team as an example. “We have 30-40 people around the world on our news team who monitor social media in various languages, in order to understand the conversational ground for breaking news. They’re an early warning system for TicToc that comes from the Bloomberg Terminal,” he said.
The verified news experience TicToc offers gets to the heart of the future of TV, in Havens’ view. How the platforms evolve will play a role, he said, but “I’m really focused on deeper relationships, because engagement tends to be superficial when you go through your timeline with the swipe of a thumb. How do we develop that – whether that’s with podcasts or other formats, or by responding to shifting attitudes toward paying for content. It’s all about relationships.”
Read more: Here’s how the TicToc team does 24/7 news