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Bloomberg’s Bascobert: Bloomberg BusinessWeek Doesn’t Need A Paywall

Last week, Bloomberg decided to reform the division that houses its TV, print, radio, mobile and digital media properties as part of the continuing quest to reach a more general business audience. By giving Paul Bascobert, president of Bloomberg Businessweek, the additional role of head of Business Operations for the Bloomberg Media Group, as the multimedia unit is now called, the company hopes to make it easier to reach advertisers interested in Bloomberg’s cross-platform offerings.

In an interview with paidContent, Bascobert discussed his new responsibilities, as well as Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s coming iPad app and clarifies a tweet referring to whether the magazine would ever offer up its own paywall.

Over the past few years, Bloomberg has worked hard to acquire and add consumer-facing businesses, that has mainly been about the way its approached content. This change is more about the business side. In essence, the formation of the unit shows that it wanted a more unified, streamlined approach to advertising and a clearer structure for doing cross-platform sales. That can’t be done unless there’s a single head of revenue, which is what Bascobert will be providing.

“Advertisers don’t want to call on six different people when they want to do a cross-platform campaign at a media company,” Bascobert said regarding his expanded role. “Obviously, you have to be conversant about the various products advertisers are interested in. But it shouldn’t take multiple calls to get something done.”

While Bascobert is now at the center of those conversations with advertisers across BMG — the multimedia unit is still run by by Andy Lack, whose title is now CEO of BMG — he is still very much involved in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which he arrived at just as the deal closed in December ’09.

The magazine is currently reading its iPad app, which is scheduled to be released sometime in the next few weeks. Bascobert demurred on offering up specifics about the app. “There’s definitely some surprises we think,” he said. “We thought about the context and what readers would want at their fingertips. It’s an app that doesn’t focus on gadgetry, but rather on just being a great reading experience.”

A number of publishers I’ve spoken to tend to see their magazine or newspaper apps as providing an opening to a new, different audience from the print product. Bascobert believes the BBW app will resonate with existing readers, serving as a supplement to viewing it on the PC and Blackberries. “I can see someone reading the iPad app at home at night, apart from checking their Blackberries on the way home from work or reading the website during the day,” he said.

He wouldn’t say what the price of the app would be, but he did have some thoughts about paywalls.

I asked about a tweet from paidContent UK’s Robert Andrews from a session at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit, where Bascobert suggested that BBW could charge for online access in the “future. (According Robert’s notes, Bascobert said: “Right now it’s not a charged model but it will be going to a charge model, in the future. You have to figure out what you do online that people will pay for. We don’t promise to be on the breaking news. As we build value for audience, we will start to make money from that.”)

Bascobert told me, “I was asked, ‘Would you charge for’ I said maybe, someday. But the advantage of our model, with the terminal business helping to support the other content businesses, we don’t have to charge for the website. We don’t have to fund our business in that way. That said, the magazine’s job within Bloomberg is to create added value to the terminal business. And that’s part of what the formation of the Bloomberg Media Group is meant to reflect.”

3 Responses to “Bloomberg’s Bascobert: Bloomberg BusinessWeek Doesn’t Need A Paywall”

  1. mark simon

    I think the most interesting aspect of the Bloomberg move into news is the obvious decision to move to the left. I am not dropping bombs or making a left/right argument. But Bloomberg has taken on Al Hunt, Shipley, and Jamie Rubin. That is a group that will take coverage left. I think CNBC wins, as FOX will pick up on this and beat them with it, which benefits CNBC… Should be interesting to watch

  2. Quentin Hardy

    “Media as loss leader for the subscription terminal business” is a perfectly acceptable model, but he isn’t saying whether he paywalls are good or bad. He’s saying his journalism doesn’t have to pay its way to survive.