fbpx $40 will buy you 15 seconds of fame on one of Times Square’s largest billboards

$40 will buy you 15 seconds of fame on one of Times Square’s largest billboards

January 19, 2023 / Hursh

‘Our view is this is the world’s largest social feed.

From its inception in the 1880s, Times Square has always been one giant pool of ad-filled billboards. The world’s most powerful companies love to advertise on the world’s most famous stage, but for all the spectacle this race for attention provides, Times Square remains a mecca of consumerism surrounded by mostly soulless buildings.

There’s a cause for hope on the horizon, though, and it comes in the shape of an 18,000-square-foot billboard. Not another billboard, I hear you say, but this isn’t your average billboard. Wrapped around the rounded corner of TSX Broadway—the 46-story, $2.5 billion tower that wants to revolutionize retail and entertainment in Times Square—the LED screen will not be showing ads. It will be showing your own personal videos.

[Image: TSX Entertainment]

The PixelStar program officially launched on New Year’s Eve, when people from more than six cities and 111 countries booked a slot to stream their own 15-second videos on one of Times Square’s largest screens. Said screen includes two seamlessly integrated, 25-foot-high LED doors that open to reveal an outdoor stage overlooking Times Square. The screen will eventually be used for broadcasting concerts and an array of other programs, but for now, it is all yours to play with. All you have to do is download the TSX app, schedule your video, and pay $40 for your literal 15 seconds of fame. (For comparison, traditional advertising on one of Times Squares’ big screens starts at $500 for 20 plays of a 15-second ad, or as of recently, $150 for a photo to run for 15 seconds per hour, for 24 hours.)

A combination of AI and a human reviews all submitted content, and if it meets the content rules, your video will momentarily take over Times Square. The content rules include what you’d expect from a screen that is viewed by no less than 360,000 people a day: no nudity, violence, or offensive content. They also include what you wouldn’t expect: no traditional advertising. “We don’t want companies to buy 15 seconds on that screen,” says Nick Holmstén, cofounder and co-CEO of TSX Entertainment. “Our view is this is the world’s largest social feed.”

The team is still ironing out its definition of “traditional advertising.” An artist who puts together a creative 15-second video asking people to follow them on Instagram would likely get the green light. A brand putting up a floating QR code, or a Coca Cola executive uploading a video of someone drinking a Coke, would not. Holmstén insists TSX will “never end up in a situation where we run traditional programs that are happening on other screens where you can buy long-term advertising campaigns.”At this time, the app is in a soft-launch mode, so you can book a slot and post your content. Soon, the team is planning to launch categories: Thursdays could be for standup, Fridays could for artists releasing new music, and so on. (The app doesn’t support audio yet, but those visiting Times Square will eventually be able to put on their AirPods, get on the app, and listen to the audio with only 100 milliseconds of a delay.) So far, people have posted videos of all sorts of mundane activities. In one, a woman sips red wine for 15 straight seconds. In another, a group of friends take a selfie video.

The big question is: Will people pay $40 for 15 seconds of the world’s attention? Holmstén says the slots sold out on New Year’s Eve, but as of publication, the remainder of January’s calendar is looking pretty sparse. So far, about half of the videos posted have come from people filming themselves while in Times Square. The other half, who are filming from elsewhere, get a “digital keepsake,” or a render of the building with their video on the screen. Holmstén says within a month, posters should get real downloadable footage from a nearby camera that’s been mounted near the screen.

It’s pretty incredible that people will pay $40 to broadcast a video they’re not even there to witness. And if it takes off, it should be good news for TSX —if every slot gets booked for 12 hours straight, this user-generated content could net TSX Entertainment upwards of $115,000 a day. Not too shabby for something that could also make Times Square a teeny bit less consumerist.

The article was originally posted by Fast Company


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