The Death of Transit TV (no broadcast). It just shut down without warning.
Image by sgroi
For about a week all the working Tansit TV’s on MTA buses have NOT been receiving a signal. Why?
Update: Now I know: See: www.hispanicmarketweekly.com/article.cms?id=10392
Transit TV Shuts Down After Bankruptcy Filing
Hispanic Market Weekly
Published: February 16, 2009
Transit Television Network, which offered rail and bus riders in five markets entertainment and advertising via video monitors under the "Transit TV" banner, has voluntarily filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
With the move, Transit TV immediately ceased operations, shutting down its main office in Orlando and a three-person sales office in Los Angeles.
Transit TV provided Spanish-language programming and advertising to Metro rail and bus lines in Los Angeles. Additionally, a mix of Spanish- and English-language programming was delivered by Transit TV to mass transit systems in both Orlando and Chicago.
English-language content agreements had also been reached with public transportation systems in Atlanta and Milwaukee.
In a brief statement, Toronto-based Torstar Corp. – the parent company of Transit TV and owner of the Toronto Star newspaper – said transit advertising "has been squeezed by the U.S. recession as companies cut back on spending."
Signs of trouble at Transit TV first surfaced in late October 2008, when Torstar said in its fiscal third-quarter earnings report that it would take a .87 million ( million Canadian) write-down of Transit TV’s assets. The move reduced the value of the assets to 4,800, and Torstar set out to explore potential strategic alternatives.
Ultimately, it could not find a suitor for Transit TV. With the closure Torstar is taking a .2 million fourth-quarter charge.
The sudden closure of Transit TV came as a surprise to Renato Lopes, its Orlando-based national sales manager. Lopes was in Miami on business when he learned of the Chapter 7 filing. He returned to Orlando to find that his job, along with that of CEO Mark Plogstedt and more than two dozen other staffers, was no more.
"Everything just stopped," Lopes says. "We were operating with business as usual, and then the plug got cut off."
As of February 10, each of the transit systems were still receiving content from Transit TV’s main servers. But with no employees on the job at Transit TV, this will likely stop within the next week.
"The network servers need to have somebody running traffic and handling the server downloads," Lopes says. "No one is going to work for free."
While Transit TV was awarded contracts with transit systems in San Diego and Dallas, the company never entered the markets – with installation costs as the primary factor.
According to Lopes, Transit TV offered installation and maintenance of its service at no charge to the transit systems it struck deals with. In Los Angeles, more than 2,000 buses were outfitted with Transit TV monitors – to the tune of ,000 per bus.
"That’s a lot of money," Lopes says. "It cost million or more to install Transit TV in L.A."
Therefore, Torstar wanted to achieve strong profitability in Los Angeles before expanding Transit TV into additional markets.
According to Lopes, Los Angeles was profitable for Transit TV – and represented the bulk of the business. "Total sales for the company were between .5 million and million," he says. But Transit TV’s operations expenses were high. A cost-cutting initiative saw the closure of offices in Atlanta, Chicago and Milwaukee, and progress was being made on reaching a break-even level of between million and million in revenue.
Callers to Transit TV’s main office are greeted by an automated attendant. But the only persons inside the offices are those conducting inventory surveys for the operations’ bankruptcy trustees.
From LA Now: latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/02/will-television.html
Will television soon disappear from MTA buses?
3:13 PM | February 9, 2009
(UPDATED, 3:55 p.m. Monday with comment below from Transit TV officials)
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding a bus in Los Angeles County for a long distance in the last few years, you probably know about the phenomenon called "Transit TV." Here’s how it works: The bus rider sits (or stands) on the bus while one or two well-positioned television monitors blast advertisements and transit news at said rider.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority signed a deal with Transit TV that began in 2005. For the MTA, it was a chance to make some ad revenue — about 2,000 in the best year — by putting televisions on most of its fleet of buses. For Transit TV, it was a way — as their website still boasts — to reach a "truly captive audience."
But now it appears that the plug may soon be pulled on the experiment. Torstar Corporation, the Canadian firm that owns Transit TV, announced Thursday that it planned to close Transit TV. At the same time, Transit TV also filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
MTA spokesman Marc Littman said that the agency received word on Friday that Transit TV’s Florida offices had been closed and that the operation would be shut down. The televisions will continue to run with fresh content until that runs out and then revert to "lifestyle" type programming that was previously stored in the computers that control the monitors, said Lorenzo Demarchi, a vice president of corporate development for Torstar. Whether the televisions are left on the buses or are taken away is ultimately up to a trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court, Demarchi added.
If the televisions disappear, the question remains whether passengers would clamor to have TV service resumed — or whether those who were weary of having their auditory and visual landscapes intruded upon will resist future attempts to bring the boob tube back to the bus.
Transit TV shuts down
Written by Dave Haynes
Thursday, 05 February 2009 20:45
Transit Television Network has voluntarily filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, according to news reports.
Torstar Corp., which owns Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper (the Toronto Star), says it plans to take a .5 million charge on its fourth-quarter financial statement as a result of the closure.
Torstar had said a year ago it had done a deal to sell Transit Television Network to IdeaCast, a Chicago-based network mostly doing health clubs.
At the time, it said IdeaCast had an option to buy the network in the second quarter of 2008 in a share swap deal that would see Torstar acquire a stake in IdeaCast.
However, the company retains ownership of the network today.
Transit TV is North America’s biggest transit-based digital advertising network operator. The company has installed and operates digital ad technology on the transit systems in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Orlando, Fla.
Transit TV provides advertising on 8,500 television screens and is seen by more than 500 million riders a year on nearly 4,000 vehicles.
Torstar said that both Transit Television Network, LLC and Transit Television Network California, LLC have filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
Like other businesses, the transit advertising operations have been squeezed by the U.S. recession, which has reduced ad revenues as companies cut back their spending to conserve cash.
A daily newspaper investment in a network that wasn’t even running on buses in the same country never made a bunch of sense to me, and with offices hours away in Orlando I doubt there was ever much in the way of collaboration or those fabled "synergies" between business units. Then again, Torstar has made a pile of money from owning the Harlequin books empire (bodice-ripping romance novels).
From the looks of things the company had just two sales people, and one was based in the agency backwater of Orlando.
So playing backbench CEO here, they likely had massive capital and operating costs to run this thing, contracts where they had to sell ads in B-markets like Orlando (whewre I bet everyone who can drives) and Milwaukee, and not enough sales feet on the ground to get anywhere.
I actually like the whole transit thing’s dynamics if one can get past the costs and engineering challenges. You’ve got people stuck on the bus for many, many minutes, and screens that in Transit TV’s case were giving contextually relevant information about location and next stop (so, sticky content). But bus riders are not necessarily the audience a lot of advertisers are after, and to get the attention of national media buys, these guys had to have screens in many more markets.
It will be interesting to see if someone can pick up the assets cheap, or just agree to run the thing, as I doubt many metro transit authorities will know what the heck to do with the screens, and I’m sure they’d prefer they weren’t dark or BSOD’d.
5 Friday, 20 February 2009 19:13
no one truly cares about the riders opinion, its traffic volume they want. If you ride the bus, you’re a loser. the ads are geared towards you – the loser. the ads in spanish are b/c lots of riders are spanish speaking… look around and you’ll see… otherwise why would they run that type of content?? in other cities with a smaller hispanic population, there is probably less spanish oriented content. think before you critize. its $ $ to run that operation and I bet their cash flow got tapped out due to a stagnant ad market. no mktg person for corporate jets or coach purses is going to interested in a poor segment of the economy. that is why you see the content you see.
wait a minute
4 Monday, 16 February 2009 13:34
I was one of the sales people. I have been in media for 20 years. I agree Transit TV had kinks. Even after several years, kinks remained. I know about the volume issues among others. It failed because of dumbass management. But let me tell you this…TTV wasn’t elevator TV or screens above the urinal TV or "let’s find another way of selling BMW’s TV". We provided a way for advertisers to reach a necessary demographic. Aids testing and trade school recruitment are just two groups that saw positive results from their time advertising on Transit TV. Transit TV is gone because the President of Torstar, Bob Prichard can’t figure out how to hire an effective sales staff to keep his stinking newspaper afloat. Too bad.
3 Monday, 09 February 2009 10:39
Whoever at Metro decided it was OK to sell their customers as "Eyeballs" or "Impressions" should be locked forever in a room with Transit TV. One reason I live the old diesel busses is — NO Transit TV. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Finally… it’s going away!
2 Saturday, 07 February 2009 15:26
Whereas I am sympathetic to Transit TV as to a company – that they’re going out of business (it is indeed sad, in those economic times, to see companies falling apart), but I am VERY happy that Transit TV will no longer be in our buses! Those nonsensical ads, with nonsensical so-called "entertainment" (showing how retards ride their skateboards!) had got to stop a long time ago!
I agree with commenter #1: Spanish was no useful for many riders (afterall, this is America, folks! Speak English!) And the volume – you’re absolutely right, is either too low, or too high that it was very, very annoying!
And… I can only imagine the "joy" of the bus drivers – when they had to endure those same "news" over, and over, and over again… No wonder bus drivers rarely look happy!
So… good-bye for good, annoying TV on the Bus!
1 Saturday, 07 February 2009 15:11
(copy of comment I posted on the WSJ site)
I ride the bus in LA every so often. A lot of people found Transit TV annoying. The volume was either turned down so low that it was impossible to hear, or turned up so loud that it blasted your ears.
The news stories were interesting, but weren’t updated frequently, so you ended up hearing the same stories over and over. Same with sports and weather.
The ads were mostly for dubious products and services–work at home schemes, "credit repair" and the like. I know most bus riders are low income, but jeez….
In LA, half the content was in Spanish, making it a big tune-out if you didn’t understand the language.
Occasionally the system would crash, and you’d see (surprise) Windows error messages, or even the BSOD, on the screens. The screens were also yet another target for graffiti.
They did devote a small section of screen for a GPS map showing where the bus was at any given time. (This was not available during ads, only during news stories)
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