Reuters ‘Netflix for news’ hopes to put a face to news wire agency

The newly launched Reuters TV app is part of an evolving strategy from news agency Reuters to bring its global, but sometimes unrecognised, brand out from behind the scenes and into the hands of its own customer base, writes Jake Evans.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | February 6, 2015

“We have a great brand name within this business, but we do want a bigger consumer footprint,” says Dan Colarusso, the Executive Director of Reuters TV. “And we do want people to come to recognise that Reuters, in addition to being the largest news organisation in the business, is the greatest, the most objective.”

“We want the world to know that in a more obvious way, and on the web it’s hard to carve that kind of presence because there’s so much noise, so we feel this app goes a long way in positioning us as that.”

Colarusso says he is not worried with competition from similar attempts by companies such as CNNCBS or Al Jazeera to launch apps which deliver curated content in a way that is meant to make getting the news easier.

“There may be enough room for all of us the way the market has developed, or there may be enough room for two of us [but] I’m not so much worried about the competition, we’re a unique player in that market and we’re trying something that’s a little more unique.”

What is “radically different” about Reuters TV is its personally curated news bulletins, designed for each specific user based on their interests and location, at a length which the user chooses, and then available for download for offline viewing.

Colarusso says the news industry has been slow-footed to meet customers “where they are” and still makes them work harder for the product than other businesses might.

“If you compare shopping on Amazon to going to Costco – that’s a very American example – but if you compare that, watching a cable news channel [is the equivalent of] having to be [at a store] when they open, or having to be put into their structure, as opposed to having a news product that really fits into your personal structure,” says Colarusso.

“And I think that’s the most radical thing, is that we’re working at the total behest of the customer.”

However, Reuters TV still asks its audience to meet them on their app, in a world where consumers – especially the audience which Reuters TV hopes to reach – are increasingly operating in social media spaces.

But Colarusso explains that Reuters TV is designed for younger but mature audiences who are looking for more depth than the ‘tasting menu’ of social media provides.

“Even as a normal news consumer, I engage in social media all day. But when it comes time – let’s say I’m a sports fan – when it comes time to really find what I want to know, I go to ESPN.”

“We give depth and credibility, and we source for you. The idea of someone coming to us and doing that, and we’re giving it in the same conditions as social media, which is wherever you are, whenever you want, whatever is new is going to be the first thing we bring you,” says Colarusso.”

“Reuters has made attempts to go directly to consumers before, so this is not new,” says UNC Chapel-Hill Business Journalism Professor Chris Roush. “What is new is that it is doing it through smart phones. I like Reuters TV because I believe that in the future all of us will get our news primarily from a hand-held device.”

Roush says what is interesting is not how Reuters TV might reinvent television, but rather how it is providing video content.

“I don’t see this as ‘television’ per se,” says Roush, “I see this as providing video content, which every major business news organization is now doing more and more. You go to the Wall Street Journal website, and it has video content there almost every day.”

“What I think this will do is force other news organizations to seriously consider what they’re doing with video and how they’re delivering video to consumers,” says Roush.

“The way we consume TV and hear about news has changed,” said Managing Director of Reuters TV Isaac Showman at its launch . “Reuters TV is news for the Netflix age: it’s individually relevant, on-demand, and up-to date. It’s ideal for viewing during your daily commute.”

“The collaboration across this has made this product greater than the sum of its parts,” says Colarusso, “And that’s the collaboration every media business is looking for these days, because our audience has gotten fragmented, our distribution has become uncertain and shaky – the business I mean, not Reuters. So in all this what you need to do is to combine your assets into greater pieces, and that’s what we’ve been able to do here.”

“You know we’ve only been in the store a day and I think we’ve only gotten about 25 reviews at this point,” Colarusso told the World Editors Forum a day after launch. “But I’m looking on Twitter and nobody has insulted my lineage yet, so I’m happy that by-and-large we’ve seen fairly good feedback.”

Photo supplied by Reuters

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Jake Evans

2015-02-06 15:58


The World Editors Forum is the organisation within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (, launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

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