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Bloomberg and Twitter launch TicToc, a live-streaming video news channel

Bloomberg and Twitter launch TicToc, a live-streaming video news channel
Twitter and Bloomberg Media's TicToc will offer breaking news and a roundup of global news at the top of each hour. Above, Twitter logos. (Loic Venance / AFP/Getty Images)

Twitter users can now tune into TicToc, a live-streaming channel by Bloomberg Media, to catch up on the day’s news — and soon, the companies say, the channel will offer updates around the clock.

TicToc, which launched Monday on Twitter, will rely on Bloomberg journalists’ original reporting as well as on information provided by Twitter users and verified by Bloomberg editors.

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In addition to offering breaking news, TicToc will stream a roundup of global news at the top of each hour. At first, the hourly updates will be available from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time, expanding to 24/7 coverage in early 2018.

On Tuesday, about 7,000 viewers tuned in to watch TicToc’s stream of statements made by members of the House of Representatives before a vote on the tax overhaul bill, with tweets by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and President Trump overlaid on the screen.

Bloomberg already disseminates its business-focused journalism through its Bloomberg Television cable channel, its website, its wire service and its Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. Its new venture is an attempt to stay relevant with younger audiences, said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.

But Pachter called TicToc a “flavor of the month” — just another way for the company to engage viewers on social media — and although he thinks ad revenue will cover the channel’s expenses, he doesn’t expect it to yield much fruit.

Twitter Inc. and Bloomberg have not commented about the financial details of the partnership, but Pachter said it’s likely that Bloomberg will take about 70% of its videos’ ad revenue and that Twitter would get the remaining funds, as well as a minimum guarantee from Bloomberg.

Twitter has never turned an annual profit. And although its number of monthly users rose 4% last quarter, its growth has been slowing since 2016, said Aaron Kessler, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates. Twitter’s ad revenue has increased since 2014 but declined 8% last quarter compared with a year earlier.

Although many people go to Twitter primarily for news, they aren’t accustomed to looking for a live stream news service on Twitter. It’s likely that only those who already are interested in Bloomberg — white, middle-aged men, typically — will make the effort to search for TicToc, Pachter said.

“I would be shocked if even a million [of Twitter’s more than 300 million monthly active users] have watched Bloomberg Television,” he said.

Right now, TicToc is supported partly by sponsors including Goldman Sachs and Infiniti, but making TicToc profitable in the long term might be difficult, said Gabriel Kahn, a journalism professor at USC.

That’s because it’s delivering news on a platform on which attention spans are already incredibly short, making it difficult for advertisers to capture consumers’ eyes, he said. And because TicToc’s videos are for a general audience, the channel will have plenty of competition for advertisers’ attention.

However, Pachter said, live video channels could become lucrative for Twitter if the company figures out how to target several types of users.

In May, Twitter announced video-streaming deals with a dozen partners, including the WNBA, Major League Baseball, BuzzFeed, financial news start-up Cheddar, IMG Fashion and concert giant Live Nation.

Twitter and Bloomberg have worked together on live video in the past. In 2016, Twitter live streamed Bloomberg Television’s broadcast of the presidential debates.

Twitter had a similar deal with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games. Amazon has since taken over Thursday Night Football game streaming.

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