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Clear Channel Airports launching in-airport digital signage TV channel

Dec 20, 2012

Clear Channel Airports launching in-airport digital signage TV channel

Digital signage technology is driving a new kind of in-airport TV channel being piloted by Clear Channel Airports and connectiVISION Digital Networks in airports across the U.S.

Powered by Harris Broadcast InfoCaster hardware and software, ClearVision is being set up to deliver a mix of network and cable broadcast programming, in-house produced content, regional news and local advertising on uniquely branded channels for each airport.

So far, ClearVision has launched broadcast services at major airports in Raleigh, N.C.; Dallas; and New Orleans, with the airport in Cleveland set to go live in the next 60 days, according to David Tetreault, chief operating officer at ClearVision/connectiVISION.

Clear Channel Airports and connectiVISION partnered to meet the appetite in airports both nationally and globally for a new way to inform, educate and entertain travelers on the move, Tetreault said in a recent interview.

"We really have gone down the path of just being broadcasters but in the away-from-home arena, and going into venues where people can actually sit down and watch television," he said. "So we just came up with the thought that we would run this like a traditional television network that was operating with affiliates around the country."

So ClearVision provides what is essentially a network feed to its affiliates (the airports) in various cities, with each affiliate also having space to run localized news, programming and advertisements that are unique to each location.

According to Tetreault, connectiVISION draws content from more than 200 content providers, including all the major networks as well as many of the cable networks and some premium online content providers, with much of the content shortened into "minisodes" for the 18-hour broadcast day of the network. And the programming is dayparted, just like a regular television station, with morning news and talk, daytime, primetime and late night programming running from 6 a.m. to midnight, with repeats overnight.

ClearVision also has deals with local television stations, so far all of them CBS affiliates, to provide local news updates, as well as deals to provide highlights from local sports franchises and teams, he said.

The way each hour of content breaks down, Tetreault said, is that each one includes 45 minutes of content, 12 minutes of local, regional and national ads, and three minutes that go back to the airport itself for onsite branding or promotion.

"It's a unique tool beyond just being a great television service and a great way to enhance the wait time of their passengers," he said. "It also becomes a promotional tool that the airports can use for whatever messaging or promotion that they want."

Harris' InfoCaster digital signage package is being used to bring all of the elements of the broadcast together, according to Harris spokesman Brian Galante: "It provides them with the dynamic tools they need to create a localized broadcast for each airport."

"InfoCaster enables connectiVISION to build and create a unique branded channel for each airport on the network so that what travelers are seeing in the airport in Dallas is not necessarily what travelers are seeing in the airport in Raleigh," he said. "That unique ability to localize content is what sets them apart from other airport networks ... They're really using advanced digital signage technology to build a true broadcast."

ClearVision debuted last fall in Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and has been spreading quickly.

"ClearVision brings airport entertainment into the modern age and represents a true game-changer for airport advertising in the U.S.," said William Eccleshare, CEO of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, in an announcement of the Raleigh-Durham deployment. "It's the latest example of how Clear Channel Outdoor continues to develop and deliver bold, pioneering solutions to the out-of-home market. Clear Channel Outdoor is committed to using technology to help our advertisers reach consumers as they travel throughout the U.S. and the world."

Looking ahead to the immediate future, the goal is to build a strong national footprint with airports across the country, Tetreault said. The new network is looking both at airports where Clear Channel Airports already has a presence and airports where other outdoor advertisers may have the advertising concession but where ClearVision may be able to replace other airport network programming providers or provide one where there is none. (For example, at Dallas Love Field, JCDecaux still has the advertising, but ClearVision replaced CNN's programming on digital signage screens around the airport.)

Even further down the road, though, the goal is expand beyond airports and health care (where connectiVISION also already has a presence) into other high-dwell-time verticals, for example luxury automobile dealerships, Tetreault said.

"Our goals over the long haul are to begin powering networks in other verticals with a similar model but curtailing it according to dwell time and environment and demographics," he said. "We envision going into places beyond airports, beyond health care, but to areas where there is ample dwell time ...We really envision creating TV channels that are very specific to brands and the environments in which those brands exist."