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Reuters believes you want to build your own newscast and be your own executive producer. That’s partly why it’s released a new iPhone app called Reuters TV, the international news agency’s attempt at disrupting the clumsy video apps that news channels have been pushing out over the last few years.
The media world thought we’d rather read magazines than watch the news on our devices and were slow to develop stand-alone TV news apps. Most news channels, including South Africa’s eNCA, simply handed off their live feed to one-stop shops like LiveStation, an app hosting an array of news channels. But even with its new redesign, feeds on LiveStation are often restricted by your location and constrained by traditional programming schedules. Meanwhile well-known news channels like CNN and MSNBC built great apps but without a US cable subscription you were unable to watch any of it.
Reuters meanwhile knows you’re tired of traditional TV and, like me, tired of simply consuming short news clips when news breaks. Rather you want to sit down and watch “authentic video storytelling” and walk away feeling educated. It’s a big bet on a small segment of consumers, something Reuters is well aware. But this group of news junkies are “informed, mobile, and globally engaged consumers” who will most likely be willing to pay for such a service. Thus after a 30-day free trial of Reuters TV, access is charged at US$1.99 a month and “premium” advertising will hopefully make this a profitable venture for Reuters.
As a news agency selling its video footage to broadcasters across the world, Reuters competes directly with the Associated Press who is yet to show its steel in a proper video app. And as a global financial-data service, Reuters competes with Bloomberg who has palmed in many accolades for its Bloomberg TV+ iOS app. This app’s success lies in its design but if you’re unfamiliar with Bloomberg TV’s programming, you might get lost in it.
There are two aspects to the Reuters TV app that makes it standout from Bloomberg TV+:
- At any time of day you can decide to watch a news bulletin and determine how long it should be. Feel like catching up on the news at 15:26? No problem. If you only have 5 minutes and not in the mood for a full 30 minute bulletin, drag down the length and sit back. Don’t like the specific segment about politics in America? Simply swipe to the left and the next news story starts immediately.
- On the Bloomberg TV+ app an additional video stream becomes available during big live news events. While their live programming might continue on their main US or European feed, you can watch as the SpaceX Dragon prepares to takeoff without a voiceover telling you what’s happening. But finding that channel is often too hard for users of the app. This is where Reuters TV offers a better solution and the opportunity to add events (like the SpaceX Dragon’s launch this Sunday) to your calendar. You’ll receive a reminder and be directed to the live feed.
Reuters has definitely succeeded in developing an innovative application of iOS’s AV Foundation and its Core Animation frameworks in developing Reuters TV. Video is delivered via http Live Streaming which, together with the decision to render all on-screen elements on the device itself, creates a fantastic user experience.
Since the app has been developed solely for iPhone users with access to the US App Store (and only for devices running iOS 8 or higher), the uptake of Reuters TV throughout Africa won’t be massive. However, if you, like me, don’t watch TV news but yearn for being offered a new way to consume it in a way that marries the old and new, then this app will definitely be worth your while.