Bloomberg Quicktake editor: 'Our strategy is very much to be everywhere'

Bloomberg Quicktake editor on how video brand reached 120m views per month

Bloomberg Quicktake executive editor Andrew Barden

Bloomberg’s social media video brand Quicktake wants to “be everywhere” but not reliant on “ephemeral” clicks, its executive editor has said.

Quicktake (originally named Tictoc) launched in 2017 as part of a Bloomberg partnership with Twitter, and has since expanded from making short video segments for the microblogging platform to running a 24-hour streaming service.

Its executive editor, Andrew Barden, told Press Gazette Quicktake now gets an average of 120m views a month across all platforms, he said.

Barden believes Quicktake is “for sure among the biggest news providers on Twitter, and number one, or certainly up there, in terms of engagement per follower”.

Quicktake is less business-oriented than the rest of Bloomberg Media, pitching itself at younger businesspeople it considers to have broader interests.

Barden said: “The premise, as it was then and still is now, is that there was a gap in the way news was being delivered.”

Filling that gap entailed what Barden called “an ongoing sprint to each of the other platforms” beyond Twitter, with “bespoke cuts and formats” of its video content being created for each platform.

In November 2020 Quicktake expanded the strategy further, launching a 24-hour over-the-top (OTT) streaming service available online, by app, and from smart television services such as Roku and Apple TV. 

Asked why, despite its name, Quicktake expanded from making short videos into the longer-form format of OTT streaming, Barden said: “I mean, everybody’s going into OTT streaming. It’s not just us. You’ve seen a massive shift in the industry there. You’ve seen massive hiring plans by a lot of our competitors. And, you know, we were fortunate in that we decided to move in there really quickly…

“Video distribution is still very fragmented. People are consuming video [on] mobile, desktop, social, TV, everywhere. And I don’t think that we need to spend too much time forcing people to pick where they should get the content they want. We should just give it to them when they want it, how they want, it where they want it…

“We really just want to make sure that we’re getting all this great content wherever everybody is.”

Press Gazette understands that the move into OTT streaming was also partly driven by a shift in advertising money from cable to streaming.

Although he wants Quicktake to be everywhere, Barden said that doesn’t mean chasing every eyeball.

“I get very envious when a competitor will get a video that will go viral or get lots of clicks… but we’ve also seen that those tend to be very ephemeral,” he said. “And I think that in the long run what people value is factual, unopinionated journalism, allowing them to draw their own conclusions, not taking them for granted…

“I’ve been at Bloomberg for quite a while, and one of the great things about this company is that we still feel like a start-up. And that’s never been more true than then here at Quicktake. And every day, it’s ‘How are we doing? What are we doing wrong? How can we innovate a little bit of a healthy paranoia about the landscape? What’s worked?’

“And it’s really just playing that long game, and making sure that we’re earning the trust of our audience.”

[Read more: Business booms for Bloomberg Media thanks to ad ‘windfall’ and 350,000 subs, CEO says]

Bloomberg told Press Gazette that “engagement on our social and OTT networks is now up by more than 350% year over year”, and that core advertising for Quicktake was up 310% in the first half of 2021 over the first half of 2020. It expects “to be up triple digits in revenue” in 2021 over 2020.

Earlier in January Quicktake debuted “Emma Barnett Meets”, a half-hour show for its streaming service in which the eponymous award-winning broadcaster interviews high profile figures, so far including Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (pictured with Barnett) and British-Tunisian author Elif Shafak.

A still from Emma Barnett Meets, a show on Bloomberg Quicktake. Emma is depicted meeting Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Picture: Bloomberg Quicktake
A still from Emma Barnett Meets, a show on Bloomberg Quicktake. Emma is virtually interviewing Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Picture: Bloomberg Quicktake

The show, Barden said, was “part of our shift into talent-led partner programming”, which will soon see American basketballer Chris Paul present his own Quicktake interview show.

Barden did not reveal what other talent would be leading the programming, saying: “I’ll get in trouble if I give away too much.”

But he said Quicktake plans in the coming year to focus more on cryptocurrency and environment coverage.

“We’ve seen that there’s a big appetite for that and it’s just really, really fun content.”

Quicktake ditched the name Tictoc in 2019 as its Chinese namesake grew ever-larger. So how does Barden feel about Tiktok now? “There’s no hard feelings… I love the new name.”

Pictures: Bloomberg, Bloomberg Quicktake screenshot

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