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Discovery Promos Play in Times Square

Passers-by near New York City's Times Square have been making some new discoveries of late. Discovery Communications Inc. has been promoting its networks, shows and consumer offerings through a new digital video screen affixed to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.

Measuring 33 feet high and 38 feet wide, the screen features the latest LED (light-emitting diode) technology.

It was custom-designed for outdoor advertising company Motion Media LLC by Mark IV IDS.

Stephanie Lowet, vice president of media planning and partnerships for Discovery Networks U.S., said 20 spots are in the current rotation, promoting Discovery Channel reality series American Chopper, TLC's makeover show, Trading Spaces, and Discovery HD Theater's Arctic Mission.

There are also network identifiers for Animal Planet and Discovery Health Channel, among others.

Visual messages range from 10 to 60 seconds in length.

“This platform will be used for all of our networks and consumer products as part of an out-of-home advertising strategy developed in cooperation with MacDonald Media and our agency of record, PHD,” said Lowet.

Lowet, citing research estimates from the Times Square Business Improvement District, said more than 1.5 million people traverse Times Square on a daily basis. Vehicular traffic is an added bonus, but not the exposure target.

The display emanates from a long-term deal between Motion Media and Viacom Outdoor. Motion sublicensed the space to Discovery, which has a one-year agreement and options for two more, said Motion senior vice president Richard DeCesare.

Neither party would discuss financial terms.

DeCesare said the huge screen represents the latest advances in LED technology: “It has live-feed capabilities and very high-resolution. It is state of the art — better than the other video screens you see in the Times Square area.”

Given the variety and duration of the messaging, Lowet said the video display has the potential to catch the eye of “workers busily racing to their offices,” plus tourists and residents taking in “a movie or dinner in this revitalized, entertainment-driven area.”

As the messages run, sans audio, Lowet said Discovery has been collaborating with its agencies to construct custom-designed promos, rather than re-editing existing spots.

DeCesare said Motion is working on locations for similar screens in New York and other markets. He declined to identify locales or to say whether other cable programmers were considering them.

After working through some of the glitches “you expect from any new installation,” Lowet said Discovery has been pleased with the billboard's performance.

She stopped short of saying the programmer would be interested in availing itself of other similar Motion displays.

“We want to walk before we run,” she said, noting that in general, Discovery has become “more bullish on out-of-home” as it fits into different marketing strategies.