By Sue Brooks
Today marks one year since we launched Reuters Connect – our ‘one stop shop’ for news content (here). It’s been a roller coaster of a ride, during which we’ve slept little and learnt lots. Assumptions we made 12 months ago have proved to be way off the mark, issues we didn’t see coming have hit us like a thunderbolt and we have learnt more than we ever thought possible: from our customers, from our partners and from the data that’s leading us to question daily the business decisions we make. We see patterns, we watch them. We spot trends, we question them. We try not to jump to conclusions, but some learnings are too hard to ignore:
1. Convergence is here
We’ve all been talking about it for years, but it seems talk has finally given way to action and we see media organisations around the globe changing their behaviours. And while we’ve known for some time that newspapers and digital (native) publishers were using more video – some have master control rooms that would make a small broadcaster weep with envy – our data is showing that the reverse is also true. Some 75% of customers who previously only had access to our video are now regularly also using photos or graphics.
2. Live video is exploding
One of the most easily identifiable trends from the past year has been the continued explosion in live video; in the past 12 months we have seen a 100% increase in the number of live streams used by our customers. We now publish around 700 live feeds a month and, since we launched ‘Reuters Live’ in September 2017, we’ve seen a 58% increase in usage, with our biggest single day being the birth of Prince Louis on April 23. So live video is alive and well…
3. Scheduled live events consistently outperform all but the biggest of breaking news stories online
…but not all live video is equal. We are seeing significant differences in the live usage trends of our broadcast and digital clients. Breaking news and politics dominate the former, while set-piece scheduled events are more successful digitally. Events – like the lunar eclipse – which are known about well in advance work best as audiences can be built and complementary coverage (graphics, blogs, slide shows) planned, prepared and pre-promoted. In fact, 10% of Reuters Connect users now regularly subscribe to alerts from our planning calendar as they use our tools to plan their coverage of scheduled events.
4. Speed matters…
We have always known this. Now we can quantify it. Reuters has always emphasized fast, reliable information and now we can see from Reuters Connect data that 25% of content is used within two hours of it appearing on the platform. This knowledge has redoubled our efforts to ensure we get the news to our clients faster than ever before.
5. But context still has value…
Close to 15% of content used on Connect is at least a year old – more than many of us anticipated – and shows the value of our expansive archive, with more archive material being added to Connect all the time. We didn’t see this coming, but as a result we are working to ensure our archive content is even more easily discoverable by developing new services such as a ‘Today in History’ strand and improved planning information.
6. The industry is coming together in new ways
The ethos and vision underpinning all of this is partnership. Connect has always offered content from other news providers and Jukin Media, BBC, USA Today, Perform, Variety and Hollywood TV all add content and value to our platform and we all share its success. This makes Connect a deeper, richer experience for our customers and helps our partners access Reuters global audience. Since launch, we have seen steady growth in the use of third-party content and we’re adding new partners all the time.
The first year of Connect has taught us a lot about ourselves and about the industry. We now work to a weekly release cycle; our developers and product teams are firing on all cylinders as success breeds success and they know they are working on a platform which is best in class. We have the plaudits to prove it (www.newsawards.co.uk/winners/) and the sleepless nights and self-doubt are a distant memory. The truth is, though, that we will never be able to relax, because we will never be finished. Connect is a truly customer and data-informed product so it will keep evolving as our clients and partners do.
This, then, is an appropriate time to thank them all for the part they’ve played in our first year – as well, of course, as my colleagues at Reuters. And as I wish Reuters Connect a happy birthday and look at our road map, I can be 100% confident when I say the best is still to come!
Sue Brooks is Global Head of Product, Reuters News Agency
Jamie dot Austin at thomsonreuters dot com
[Reuters PR Blog Post]