On election night, getting eyeballs on the stars of Bloomberg Politics

Bloomberg Politics is working overtime to make sure as many viewers as possible watch their election coverage tonight, anchored by managing editors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

Heilemann and Halperin’s coverage, which will include an hour-long edition of their weekday show “With All Due Respect” and an all-night election special from 7 p.m. to midnight, will simultanously air on Bloomberg TV’s cable channel, the Bloomberg Politics website, Bloomberg’s mobile apps, AOL, Youtube, and Mashable.

“It’s the first time that we will be doing election-night coverage with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann since they’ve come to Bloomberg earlier this year,” Bloomberg Politics general manager Eliot Pierce told Capital. “We’ve been working to expand the reach of Bloomberg Politics as far as we can, to ensure that as many as people as possible can view the coverage that we’re putting together.”

It may seem obvious that a news organization would want the widest possible audience to view its election night coverage, but it is actually anything but. Most of Bloomberg TV’s competitors—Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Fusion—will only make their primary TV coverage available to cable subscribers. They will also have separate web coverage for cord-cutters online, but non-subscribers will not be able to view what’s broadcast on cable.

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The reason is that most cable networks have fairly restrictive carriage agreements with cable networks, which prevent them from distributing their content on both cable TV and other distribution channels (such as live streams).

Bloomberg TV, though, has negotiated fairly unusual carriage agreements: in exchange for receiving much lower carriage fees from the cable companies that carry its network, the channel is not restricted in where else it can distribute its content. 

“Basically, we are not encumbered by any restrictions of our content, and so our goal is to reach customers wherever they are watching the returns come in,” Pierce says.

Mark Halperin and John Heilemann did not come cheap for Bloomberg—they reportedly each receive over $1 million per year—and it seems that the company wants to make sure that a large number of people actually watch their coverage. Heilemann are Halperin will be joined during the election night special by a number of contributors, including Bloomberg View columnist Al Hunt, Kim Alfano, Bill Burton, Lanhee Chen, Fred Davis, Patti Solis Doyle, Anita Dunn, Michael Feldman and John Sununu III.

Bloomberg TV’s cable channel is widely believed to have a relatively low viewership—the company refuses to release the numbers and it is not tracked by Nielsen—so if Halperin and Heilemann’s coverage were only available on the Bloomberg’s cable channel, it is unlikely that they would attract a significant audience.

Instead, Bloomberg Politics is aggressively pursuing digital video partnerships, for both its live streams and video clips.

In addition to Bloomberg Politics’ own site and mobile apps, Heilemann and Halperin’s “With All Due Respect” is live-streamed to Amazon Fire and Apple TV, and full episodes are made available on Hulu. Video clips from Bloomberg Politics are distributed through AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and the digital video exchanges NDN and Vidible.

It seems people are actually watching. A Bloomberg spokeswoman said that according to comScore, the company’s online videos received 72 million desktop views in September, a 12 percent increase over August’s numbers and a 136 percent year-over-year increase.

Tonight’s election special will be livestreamed on AOL, Youtube, and social news site Mashable. Mashable is run by Jim Roberts and Jonathan Ellis, who worked with Pierce at The New York Times. The site reached out to Bloomberg Politics and offered to promote its content, Pierce said.

“Mashable is a property that I’ve been very interested in for a long time, and it seems to be very complementary to Bloomberg.com and Bloomberg Politics’ audience. … They have a huge audience. It definitely skews probably slightly younger than our audience or more tech-savvy in some regards,” he said.

Bloomberg Politics has an exclusive deal with Mashable for midterm election coverage, which means that Bloomberg Politics’ livestreamed coverage will be the only live coverage featured on Mashable. Mashable did not have any exclusive streaming partner for the 2012 election, and Pierce hopes that if all goes well tonight, the site will feature Bloomberg Politics’ election-night coverage in 2016.

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