Factiva, the Dow Jones/Reuters company (http://www.factiva.com), has acquired content and archives from FT.com, the online arm of the U.K.'s leading business news source, the Financial Times. Under the new arrangement, Factiva will acquire a 3-year rolling archive of the full text of the Financial Times plus any content published exclusively on its Web site. Rather than merging this content into its existing Publications Library on Dow Jones Interactive (DJI), Factiva plans to save this content for its upcoming Factiva.com site, which is scheduled to launch in March 2001. Reuters Business Briefing users, who are concentrated outside the U.S., will receive access to the FT.com content. The addition will bring Factiva's total content count up to 7,000 sources.
According to Clare Hart, president and CEO of Factiva, "This agreement with FT.com brings together two of the most respected and trusted information brands in the business world. It builds upon the existing Financial Times content available through Factiva to provide our customers with the critical business news and information they need to make their best business decisions."
Some of the Financial Times content already flows into Factiva's Dow Jones Interactive service through the jointly produced World Reporter database. In expanding their affiliation with Factiva, Michael Murphy, chief operating officer of FT.com, stated: "We are pleased with this agreement as it expands the availability of FT.com content to include Factiva's global customers, which are dispersed across FT.com's key target markets. The increased traffic to FT.com will further improve our market reach, and increase distribution of the insight and analysis for which the Financial Times and FT.com are renowned."
FT.com has a global following. It attracts over 1.2 million unique visitors each month who average over 22 million monthly page views, and is the most visited commercial news site in the U.K. Its registered user base numbers over 2 million. Registration on FT.com is free, as it is on dowjones.com.
The FT.com site retains a substantial body of material that isn't shared with Factiva, particularly the Global Archive, which has over 10 million newspaper and periodical articles from 2,000 publications. It also offers a Web Guide, with access to key international business Web sites, and an Online News service that tracks some 1,000 Web sites. FT.com even offers a premium AskFT service that assigns researchers to help find sources or answer in-depth questions. Factiva offers comparable services in its Publications Library, Web listings, and new Information Portal service, though not always for free.
Evaluating the logic behind the move by FT.com, industry commentator Richard Poynder said: "From the FT's perspective, I suspect it is trying to play both old economy and new economy together.… They have made most if not all of their archive free on the FT.com site, so in that respect it is using the advertising-based revenue model of the new economy. If it is also now making that same content available to Reuters and Dow Jones users at a price, it is perhaps hoping to play the old economy model, too. Which is quite smart if true. It would also suggest, though, that it might be having some doubts about the new economy model?"
So what does this announcement mean to working searchers dealing with the information demands of a global economy? Well, if you're a Dow Jones Interactive user, it probably means you will have to wait until March 2001 to see what the new Factiva.com will bring. If you're a Reuters Business Briefing user, relax and enjoy the expansion. If you want FT.com content now or if you want access to that Global Archive, you probably should register with FT.com and bookmark it.
On the other hand, if you want the full archive of the Financial Times, you might consider LEXIS-NEXIS. Early this year, Reed Elsevier acquired the Business Information Product Division of the Financial Times Electronic Publishing Group, which included the proprietary online host FT Profile; FT Discovery, a fixed-price Web product service; and FT NewsWatch, an intranet current-awareness service. The deal included an expansion of LEXIS-NEXIS' licensing agreement to allow it to market the Financial Times archives in Europe (it already had the rights in the U.S. and Asia). The extension also included the FT's European Intelligence Wire and Asia Intelligence Wire (see Poynder's January 31, 2000 NewsBreak at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=17848).
At this point, LEXIS-NEXIS has finished the first phase of its FT content integration. It has the full archives of the Financial Times back to January 2, 1982 and has added the two wire services. According to one LEXIS-NEXIS representative, the second phase will target the more than 3,000 sources in the FT Profile's archives, a subset of which forms the Global Archives, which are still available through the FT.com site. Many of the sources will undoubtedly already exist online in the LEXIS-NEXIS system.
Many, if not most, of the sources available in FT.com's Global Archives may also exist in Dow Jones Interactive's Publications Library, which users can search for free (or for no extra charge beyond the annual fee on the DJI or Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition versions) but pay for output.
This is a natural alliance for the world's two leading business news sources. It's also a natural fit with the Web strategy of "ouch-free" pricing. And, it provides an interesting peek at what Factiva.com may look like when it premieres in March.