Thomson Reuters v. Bloomberg BNA – Two Titans Continue to Duke it out

This month, both Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters announced the release of new products/services.  Not the blockbuster news that some of us were waiting for–the acquisition of “The Financial Times” by Thomson Reuters that would be a game changer in its competition with Bloomberg,  or a mega deal by Bloomberg BNA that would follow up the  DLA –Piper Agreement, and prove that deal  it wasn’t a fluke. No, the developments were more subtle, but still important.

Thomson Reuters led off by announcing the release of Datastream Professional, their new global financial research and analysis tool. Datastream was created in response to recent global financial and economic events (such as the debt crisis), and the need for research and analysis to support investment processes to meet these new challenges. Meanwhile, four days later on February 21, Bloomberg BNA announced that they had entered into a new partnership with Georgetown Law Continuing Legal Education (CLE) allowing both parties to provide high-quality continuing education programs for the legal marketplace. Their first product offers all 13 sessions of the sold-out November 2011 Georgetown Advanced eDiscovery Institute to those attorneys who were unable to attend the live event. It includes CLE credits for attorneys, and the option to purchase single session, 4-session bundles, or a 13 session bundle which encompasses the entire two-day program.

What is the significance of these moves?  For Thomson Reuters, Datastream follows in the footsteps of the disappointing rollout of Eikon (their version of the Bloomberg ubiq customized terminal), so its release can be seen both as a direct challenge to Bloomberg’s financial services products, as well as an attempt by them to recover from the Eikon failure, which contributed to the resignation of Thomas Glocer as CEO. The good news is that, Thomson Reuters has apparently learned from their Eikon mistakes, deciding to scrap the idea of customized terminals (as Bloomberg did for their own legal product), in favor of flexible access through its own secure, web-based solution, iPad, mobile devices or within Microsoft Office, allowing users to get information when, where and how it most convenient for them. This decision frees up users from their desks and their ubiqs and opens the door to countless new users.  In addition, Professionals’ own proprietary data can also be used alongside third party data, making it a more open product than Eikon. While it’s too early to gauge the success or failure of Datastream, an interesting question comes to mind: What will happen to Thomson Reuters if Datastream turns into another Eikon disaster?  My guess is that with its improvements, Datastream won’t turn into another Eikon disaster. Thomson Reuters describes its product as “a powerful tool that integrates economic research and strategy …, by combining the world’s largest historical financial database, with critical real-time market data, global news from Reuters and powerful analytical tools – all within the one solution”. It also claims that Datastream Professional “makes it easier to identify global developments and target the right assets, sectors and countries to invest in” and that “the platform’s powerful search tool provides links to relevant content, allowing the user to easily navigate and explore the range of data whether news, indices, analytics or macroeconomics. “. Powerful boasts, but I think that Thomson will have to deliver on them –or else we will see even more heads roll and more organizational changes.

In Bloomberg BNA’s case, their new alliance seems less risky than the Thomson Reuters venture- at least on paper. I see no potential down sides, and nothing to really lose.  While not as headline grabbing as the DLA deal, this new agreement is a smart move for them for several reasons: 1) It strengthens Bloomberg BNA with some needed content from a trusted and known source, in order to make them more competitive with rivals, Lexis and Westlaw, 2) The availability of live continuing education programs, OnDemand archives of audio webinars and video webcasts bolsters Bloomberg BNA presence in the remote learning market for CLE. 3) This partnership premiers and showcases their new platform that allows for the hosting of remote learning programs , thus boosting Bloomberg’s stock as both a technological innovator and a significant player in the CLE market.

What will happen next?  My guess is that the next battlefields between these giants will be in media, with “The Financial Times”, potentially “The Wall Street Journal”, and third-party content with expiring contracts with Lexis and Westlaw as the attractive targets.  Both Thomson and Bloomberg have the financial resources, the interest and the capability to wage war for these media assets. The battle will be exciting – no matter who wins.  One thing is certain, the drama between these two competitors will continue. Meanwhile, fasten your seat belt for the ride. It just might get bumpy.


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