NYTimes.com Comes to Video Screens in Five Cities

The New York Times (NYT) reports that starting Monday, a version of its electronic edition will be available on 850 screens in five cities. A deal with local ad company RMG Networks, which owns the screens, aims to put the newspaper in front of a new audience.

The screens are in coffee shops, casual dining restaurants and airport newsstands in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston, and are being branded the NYTimes.com Today network. Another 850 screens will be added over the next several months, and some may be in other cities yet to be named. The stories displayed on the screens will run through a complete cycle every 14 minutes and will be ad supported.

The program has some flaws, the first of which is that it is unlikely people will stand in front of a screen in a public place for 14 minutes to see the set of stories in the cycle that might interest them. The second is that the Times brand is nearly universally known in the five markets where the screens will be used, at least among its demographic targets. The paper is available in all of these cities both in printed form and online. In fact, the newspaper is sold in 70% of the locations with the screens, so perhaps their most important function will be as video billboards inducing passers-by to buy the print edition.

Newspapers are in enough trouble to be grasping for straws as they try to find new audiences and ways to bring in sales. The Times TV foray is just another example.
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