For instance, Nasdaq added 25 new ETF products to its lineup in the first quarter of 2016, including 12 products that ditched the NYSE Arca for Nasdaq – 10 BlackRock iShares and two Van Eck ETFs. The rest were all new product launches from Eaton Vance, Van Eck, Victory Capital, Principal Funds, Vanguard, PowerShares, First Trust and Janus.

Bats is also wooing its fair share of ETF providers, including the recent WisdomTree emerging market and international quality dividend ETFs on Thursday, April 7.

So far this year, the NYSE Arca has added 42 ETF launches, or a 45% share, while Bats had about 31% and Nasdaq captured 24%.


Bats is also growing more serious in its attempt at capturing a greater piece of the ETF pie. For example, on March 29, the exchange operator signed a definitive agreement to acquire, a provider of ETF data, news and education, underscoring the exchange’s commitment to the ETF industry and focus on providing content for market constituents.

Bats has also announced the launch of its initial public offering of 11,200,000 shares of its common stock, with an initial share price expected to be between $17.00 and $19.00, according to a statement. Bats shares are expected to price Thursday and begin trading on the Bats Exchange under the ticker symbol BATS.

The exchange operators have also pushed their ETF agenda through incentives programs that would help bolster liquidity in ETF trades. Bats, for example, is paying firms to list their ETFs on its exchange.

“This has our competitors frozen, given the potential cost of responding to this threat and the damage it could do to their corporate listings business,” Chris Concannon, chief executive officer of Bats, told Bloomberg. “Can you imagine NYSE paying GE or Bank of America to list on its market?”

Nasdaq is also trying to one up its competitors, filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for approval of a new program which would share some of its trading revenue with market makers to bolster liquidity in ETPs. Market makers help generate ETP liquidity by buying or selling shares of the products to keep the funds in line with underlying holdings. If the market makers succeed in providing tighter spreads in ETF trades, investors will likely be more apt to adopt the funds.

“I’m not discounting the attractiveness some may see in getting a cash rebate to choose a listing venue, but what Bats has done appeals only to the largest products,” Jeff McCarthy, Nasdaq’s head of exchange-traded product listings and services, told Bloomberg. “Issuers would rather see programs that are aimed at increasing trading.”

As competition heats up, some NYSE executives that focused on ETFs are beginning to see the writing on the wall. For instance, Steve Crutchfield, the exchange group’s head of ETFs, bonds and options, left the NYSE for Chicago Trading Co. Days after Crutchfield left, Phil Bak, a managing director at NYSE, also resigned and will become chief executive of CSat Investment Advisory LP. Additionally, last year, Bats expanded its ETF listing operation after tapping NYSE veteran Laura Morrison to head its global ETF business.