Thomson Reuters releases video-on-demand platform

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A one-stop shop for financial news. That’s how Thomson Reuters describes its newest innovation, the video-on-demand platform, or VOD.

This is a customizable online Web video service that companies can use to develop their own branded channels and broadcast their own market commentaries and original research. It’s called Reuters Insider and, as of the May 11 launch, is available to most of Reuters’s 500,000 paying subscribers for no additional charge.

This technology has been in the making for two years, as Reuters sought a new way to deliver multi-media subscriber services. They toyed with various ideas – like a linear TV station or installing cameras on the desks of each reporter – but those did not go far enough to accomplish the purpose Reuters had in mind.  The company wanted, and got, what it says is a “highly collaborative and personalized medium.” The target market is busy professionals, described by the developers as the “crème de le crème” – who want to know what’s happening almost before it happens.

“By leveraging our 2,800 journalists worldwide, Reuters Insider provides our clients with global financial market news and the credibility that accompanies local access and knowledge,” David Schlesinger, Reuters editor in chief, said in a statement.

Reuters subscribers will have access to approximately 3,000 new online videos every week. Reuters, itself, will be producing much of the video with the help of content producers, including CNBC. Within 30 seconds of the original airing, a video will be available for on-demand viewing. All videos will be well-indexed, with transcripts, so that subscribers can easily locate news stories of interest. They also will have the ability to bookmark their favorites for later viewing on their computers, Blackberries, or iPhones.

"We have brought in more than 100 people; we have built studios [in London, New York, and Hong Kong] and added the entire infrastructure", Schlesinger told the Press Gazette. And, said Schlesinger, Reuters also has cameras in all its major European bureaus to feed the service.

Mike Stepanovich, the managing editor of this project, told reporters at, “We knew we wanted to do something different from what the linear business news broadcasts offer. 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 [digital video recorders] 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.”

Subscribers also will have the capability of uploading their own video programs. They will be provided with small video cameras, which can be mounted to their computers to use for shooting videos. Then they will be able to add Reuters graphics and other data.

At some point, Reuters may consider going to the ad-supported news, but for now they are happy with where they are, says Stepanovich. “At the end of the day, about 90 percent of our revenues come from our subscribers, and we think it’s important to give them more reasons to keep subscribing.”

An iPhone app for Reuters Insider is available now and, in a few weeks, an iPad app also will become available in a limited version to non-subscribers.

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