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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/MTA

Thousands of obnoxious video ads are coming to the NYC subway

By Clayton Guse

The MTA isn't exactly having a banner year. With service disruptions on the rise and a run of emergency fixes currently underway, straphangers are desperate for any good news. (Where's that Wi-Fi we were promised?) The MTA gave just the opposite on Wednesday, announcing that it is rolling out a network of digital video screens on buses, trains and subway platforms across New York City. The screens will, among other things, display video advertisements that will almost certainly to make your commute even more unpleasant. (Just imagine Gregg T. telling you to stay safe in full living color.)

The news isn't all bad, though. The new screens will double as interfaces for customer information, providing passengers with a visually appealing interface to cope with their subway depression. The project is a part of a larger initiative to provide real-time train updates across the subway system, including arrival times and service changes. 

The contract for the installation of the screens was awarded to OUTFRONT Media, which already has a sizable portfolio of public digital advertisements in New York. According to a press release from the MTA, the company will create a network of 14,000 digital screens in stations and platforms across the system and will install more than 35,000 additions screens on Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and New York City subway train cars. The contract includes the operation and maintenance of the screens for 15 years and will cost upward of $800 million (which will be recovered through new advertising revenues from the screens).

Here's a preview of what they'll look like:

It will take a few years for the screens to be rolled out. OUTFRONT is obligated to install at least 17,000 screens by the end of 2019 and at least 80 percent of them by 2022. Until then, straphangers can take solace in the static, graffitied banner ads that unobtrusively adorn the city's subway cars.


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