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Network TV Invades Gas Pumps and Magazines in Desperate Bid for Attention

As the fall TV season looms, the Big Four networks are furiously clamoring for attention. And since you’re probably not watching live TV ads (because nobody watches live TV anymore), they’re bombarding you with content wherever possible–including at the gas pump, in taxicabs, and even on the pages of magazines.

Gas Station TV

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As the fall TV season looms, the Big Four networks are furiously clamoring for attention. And since you’re probably not watching live TV ads (because nobody watches live TV anymore), they’re bombarding you with content wherever possible–including at the gas pump, in taxicabs, and even on the pages of magazines.

Beginning today, Gas Station TV, the largest provider of TV at the pump (with some 30 million viewers every month), will show clips and ads from NBC Universal. They’ll appear in four-and-a-half-minute cycles, and include programming from local and national NBCU
news, and prime time, late night and cable TV shows. (What, no NASCAR?) According to MediaDailyNews:

The deal, orchestrated by NBC Everywhere–NBCU’s division for cross-platform distribution–“mirrors our
advertisers’ desire for additional scale adjacent to NBCU’s premium
content, and allows us to provide the capabilities and
Nielsen-confirmed metrics that our clients are looking for,” said Mark
French, NBC Everywhere’s senior vice president and general manager.

If this think-outside-living-room strategy sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Last year, New York City’s Metro Transit Authority revamped its bus exteriors to include digital video screens–whose “bright and unavoidable” ads hawk everything from snacks to sitcoms–and, as part of a deal with Taxi TV, ABC began broadcasting news, sports, weather, and entertainment programming in more than 6,500 taxi cabs. Even more intrusive annoying intriguing? Just a few weeks ago, CBS announced it would start video-advertising in Entertainment Weekly:

On some level, these efforts reek of desperation. But for the Big Four nets, these are desperate times. At the close of the 2008-09 TV season, they had lost a collective 16% of their advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-olds–and a significant amount of media buzz–to cable, Hulu, iTunes, and other TV alternatives. Previewing shows at gas pumps has definitely gotten people talking. But if it actually boosts ratings during premiere week, watch out: “NBC Everywhere” might actually be…everywhere.

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