In early January Lexis sent emails to its customers, announcing that they  had entered into an exclusive agreement to  provide access to the New York Times  in the legal market.This means that the New York Times will be removed from Lexis’ main competitors Westlaw and BloombergLaw.
Over the past two decades Lexis has steadily built a an impressive news portfolio. LexisNexis now owns or controls access to a big chunk of legal and business news in the legal market.  Exclusive content now includes: ownership of Law360, control of  legal market access to the American Lawyer Media news archive,  access to the Wall Street Journal Online and  now the New York Times.

Then this morning Oustell posted a story from New York magazine “.People Are Talking About Michael Bloomberg Buying the New York Times, Including Michael Bloomberg.”

“For years now, it has been speculated in media circles that Mike Bloomberg could be a white knight and save the New York Times. Now it appears he may actually have tried to do it.Near the end of Bloomberg’s time as mayor, he told Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that he was interested in buying the Times, according to a source with direct knowledge of the conversation. Sulzberger replied that the paper was not for sale. Bloomberg’s overture, previously unreported, might be one reason why talk of a Bloomberg-Times eventuality has flared up among insiders in the wake of the most recent round of Times’ layoffs. Given the fact that both sides vehemently deny that there have been recent conversations (Sulzberger “can’t remember the last time he spoke with Bloomberg,” said a spokesperson), this may very well be wishful — or apprehensive — thinking being played out in the echo chamber of media gossip”

The story doesn’t mention the Lexis exclusive deal  for the New York Times which certainly can be counted as evidence against the sale of  the NYT to Bloomberg. In addition. Lexis has reportedly paid top dollar for its exclusive news deals in the past. So did the fees from the Lexis deal alleviate some of the NYT financial woes…at least for the short term? Was it a kind of “poison pill” to ward off a Bloomberg acquisition?

How Tight is the NYT/Lexis Deal?

It is not inconceivable that the Lexis-New York Times deal could survive the purchase of the NYT by Bloomberg. But somehow, I can’t imagine Mike Bloomberg owning content that was available on Lexis but not on Bloomberg Law. The New York Magazine article highlights Bloomberg’s desire to focus on expanding his media empire in general, not in undermining a key competitor to his legal product Bloomberg Law.  But Bloomberg is no fool and he can hire the best lawyers  – so I would expect that any deal for NYT would result in the content being added to  Bloomberg Law. A spokesperson for Bloomberg Law declined to comment on the story, because  they are a subsidiary of Bloomberg and “not in a position to comment.”

 So a Bloomberg purchase of the New York Times? It’s a “definite maybe! ” Stay tuned– I will be watching this one.