Reuters Introduces Online VOD Platform Aimed At Subscribers

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After spending much of the past year focusing its multimedia products at consumers, Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI) will introduce an on-demand, customizable online web video service that’s mainly for its paying subscribers. The service, called Reuters Insider, has been in the works for two years and makes its debut on Tuesday. It will include specially produced video programming by Reuters, as well as 150 of its content partners, including CNBC. In addition to the iPhone app also available Tuesday, Reuters Insider will introduce its iPad app a few weeks later, though non-subscribers will only be able to access a limited version.

In an interview at Reuters’ Times Square offices on Friday, Mike Stepanovich, the managing editor of Project Insider, told paidContent that there will be 3,000 new online videos available each week. Reuters will produce its own short, live webcasts, which will be on VOD 30 seconds after the original airing. When the plan for doing more multimedia content for subscribers came up two years ago, Stepanovich’s team kicked around a number of ideas. One initial plan called for launching a linear TV channel; Reuters also considered simply putting cameras on each reporters’ desk. But those proposals were quickly shelved as not going quite far enough.

Instead, Reuters created its own TV studios to create short webcasts devoted to breaking news across its myriad coverage areas, including financial markets, tech and health care.

“We knew we wanted to do something different from what the linear business news broadcasts offer,” Stepanovich said. “We have a very specialized audience — they’re focusing on foreign exchange, they’re focusing on the energy markets. The chance of someone happening to look up at their TV screen and seeing something directly relevant to them at a given moment is not very likely. The other piece is that people have DVRS at home, but not necessarily at the office. With Insider, we’re able to give our subscribers exactly what they want, when they want it.”

Once a video appears in the system, Reuters makes sure it is thoroughly indexed. Transcripts will quickly accompany every video, which will allow subscribers, who pay as much as $2,000 a year for Reuters’ service, to search through news stories of interest to them. They’ll then be able to save the video to a “favorites” section, which can be accessed on subscribers’ PCs, iPhones and Blackberry devices.

The video service isn’t just one-way. Subscribers will also have tools to make it easy to create and upload their own video programs for Reuters Insider in a matter of minutes. Subs will get a small video camera that can be mounted to their computer. After shooting a video, they’ll be able to plug in Reuters’ graphics and data as well.

Down the road, Insider’s capabilities might make their way to the consumer-facing — i.e., ad-supported — side of the business, which is an area both Reuters and rival Bloomberg have been catering to lately. But Stepanovich said that the company is in no rush to do so: “At the end of the day, about 90 percent of our revenues comes from our subscribers, and we think it’s important to give them more reasons to keep subscribing.”

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