Thomson Reuters Plans Video-on-Demand Service

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Thomson Reuters has announced an ambitious new video-on-demand service for its financial services clients, with thousands of searchable videos and transcripts on a range of topics, hoping to become a one-stop source for business people.

The Web-based service, which will be introduced in the next few months, differs significantly from existing sources of financial news video reports. It has no television outlet and no programming schedule — each piece is viewed only on demand — and it will not be open to the general public.

“We’ve created something completely new here,” Devin Wenig, chief executive of the company’s markets division, said in an interview in his office above Times Square, where he demonstrated the service. “This is meant for the 550,000 financial professionals who have a Thomson Reuters screen on their desks.”

The hope is not to compete directly with established sources like CNBC or Bloomberg Television, but to create a new niche — and make the company’s core business of financial data and news more attractive in the competition with Bloomberg and Dow Jones Newswires. The Thomson Reuters service has features that allow especially fast access to specific pieces of video, whether produced in a studio or recorded at a conference or a hearing. Each video is accompanied on screen by a searchable transcript, with a set of key words highlighted at the top. Clicking anywhere on the transcript causes the video to jump to that point.

A user can search the entire database of videos for any that mention a particular topic, person, industry or company. And the service can compile a montage that pulls out the quick bits of relevant video on a subject and strings them together.

Mr. Wenig said that in designing the service, Thomson Reuters emphasized speed in finding and displaying videos. The Wall Street that emerges from the current economic crisis, he said, will be not only smaller, but much younger, populated by a generation accustomed to instant searches and on-demand services.

The company has built bare-bones television studios in its offices in New York City, London and Hong Kong, and is training its news staff to produce short video reports on the topics they cover. The company will not say what kind of investment went into the new service.

The site is built around a series of “vertical” channels on broad topics, each with a set of subchannels. Thomson Reuters wants its clients, like research firms, banks and investment firms, to supply video of their own people discussing financial news, and even create their own channels on the site. It says a number of companies have already signed on, though it would name only a few, like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Argus Research.

“I don’t think anyone else has deployed something like this, though no doubt they will,” said Paul G. Hayward, associate director of broadcast and digital communications at the mercantile exchange. “I’m quite excited about it.”

Most eligible Thomson Reuters clients will gain access to the service in June, but a few hundred have been already begun using a test version. Subscribers to the company’s premium service will be allowed to use it, and subscribers at lower levels will be able to buy access for an additional charge.

Source: www.nytimes.com

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