Multimedia news portal BloombergQuint has launched its WhatsApp broadcasting service to distribute news to readers in India. BloombergQuint is a co-branded TV news channel, which was announced in March 2016 through a partnership between Bloomberg, and Raghav Bahl-owned The Quint.

How to Subscribe? Users have to click this link here and save the number to your WhatsApp contacts, and message ‘Start BQ’ to that contact. The process will take around 30 seconds. Whoever subscribes to the WhatsApp service number (+49 1579 2387191), will get news updates in English for free.

First Impressions

It looks like a bot service, as soon as you send ‘Start BQ’ on WhatsApp to this newly created contact, you receive an automated response, which ensures that you have saved the number. In terms of frequency of news, it is unclear how often it will send the latest updates. It said on its website that, “this free service will send you the most newsworthy snippets of our daily coverage – market highlights, analysis, the BloombergQuint pre-market podcast – all in moderate doses”.

We tried the service, and after two hours of subscribing it, we received an update with an image along with  BloombergQuint’s story with a link to it, which redirects you to the news website- so that you can read a full story. We think a longer snippet of the story could have been sent.

Here are some screenshots from messing around with the BloombergQuint’s WhatsApp service/bot. As you can see, it doesn’t understand everything yet, but catches a keyword and send you the link to it, which we can we can find on our own by going to the news website or mobile-site.

 

MediaNama’s take

Using WhatsApp to distribute news is an interesting way to update people about the news but we need to see whether they will gain traction. We had pointed out long back that WhatsApp might work well as a media publishing platform.  According to a Reuters Institute ‘s Digital News Report 2017, WhatsApp has emerged as the top social network platform sharing news, and is also beating its own parent Facebook. The study finds out that 23% of its respondents share, or discuss news using one or more messaging applications, and the use of WhatsApp for news has jumped significantly in past one year.

Also, WhatsApp revealed its revenue plan in September with the official launch of WhatsApp business. It announced that said that the business version of WhatsApp will make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses, and WhatsApp buisness will include features like verified accounts, managing chats, creating business profiles, hours of operation and more. In July, Whatsapp said in July that it has reached to 1 billion daily active users.

Other publications using messaging platforms

In June this year, UK-based publisher and media company the Financial Times (FT) launched WhatsApp broadcast service to distribute news and updates to its readers. It said that it will send only one or two stories per day, and “whether you are a subscriber or not, it will always be free (outside of the FT’s subscription paywall).”

In March last year, Broadcasting organization BBC News said that it is using chat applications Viber and WhatsApp to publish its documentaries. In April 2014, it’s worth remembering that BBC had launched a pilot through which it was pushing out audio bulletins and other updates related to the Indian general elections via WhatsApp, WeChat and BlackBerry Messenger. On WhatsApp, BBC transformed the service on election day into a live breaking and analysis service, sending more than 20 items to subscribers on the day. This included breaking news alerts and analysis from correspondents in its Delhi bureau.