Resist the temptation to dismiss Bloomberg LP's acquisition of BusinessWeek as merely the latest move in the media consolidation. This deal is a game changer on a number of levels. First and foremost we have a clash of titans with two truly global, very well-funded news organizations, Bloomberg and News Corp. -- swinging it out in a contracting market, not as title-to-title or wire service-to-wire service, but as platform-to-platform. In effect, this deal marks the emergence of the truly global multi-platform news titans and it is inevitable that editorial content will travel the platforms -- from wire service to print to dot com to broadcast. Even more inevitable, advertising bundles also will drive the integration and therein is a new fault line for marketers and corporations to navigate.
Already, the BusinessWeek deal is only one of several deals struck by Bloomberg in recent weeks; for instance, the alliance with Washington Post Co. to sell articles to newspapers and other news organizations, many of which are coping with tightening budgets. Bloomberg is adding live feed from the New York Times to its subscription service. The Wall Street Journal itself summed up the situation quite succinctly on October 2: as the economic downturn has threatened demand for its Bloomberg professional product, Bloomberg has sought to capitalize its news gathering operation by finding more outlets for it.
This deal puts two major news organizations in a position to offer the newsmaker multiple channels worldwide. But if the battle lines appear to get drawn between these two titans, there are others who see this as a clash of the dinosaurs. There is in media, as there was in technology in the '90s, a profound battle between propriety and open systems. Both of them have survived but the proprietary systems lost share. Many see the traditional media bundling to new platforms as an attempt to protect proprietary content that they create, defending share against the new open content aggregators like the one you are reading. This battle is not just between News Corp and Bloomberg but between old media and the new world of the Huff Post and Politico.com.
Rather than drive these two forms of media apart, competition will only serve to drive them closer together. Social media and the blogosphere only become elevated when traditional media confirms their validity and likewise, traditional media needs the currency of social media. Already, the most influential journalists have brands above and beyond the titles they write for. The Huffington Post, with 21 million unique monthly visitors, is at the epicenter of both new names in media and the power of aggregated content. But on its tail are Politico, Salon and Slate or Ted TV. All of them are redefining the battle lines for marketer and content creator.
Regardless of who wins or how the fight breaks down, stronger, healthy competition will create a better news product from the truly continuous news cycle. Medium and smaller sized corporations, which have been absent from the business and financial news of late, will have a greater opportunity for coverage. Any producer of content will be able to leverage content across multiple relationships and multiple platforms. As in every other media battle, a key winner will be the reader.