Ad-rich TV programming from Global being tested on GO trains

If the results are positive, all of GO Transit's 150,000 daily commuters will soon be able to watch programming and ads on OTTV (On-Train TV).

During a trial skedded to last through the fall, large video monitors have been installed on just two of GO Transit’s coaches, broadcasting customized news, weather, sports and entertainment provided by Global Television – plus commercials from Pizza Pizza, Alliance Atlantis, Telus and Nolitours (a division of Air Transat). But so optimistic are the three companies involved in the test that more than 200 video monitors are already being manufactured in Korea for deployment early next year.

‘We are one of the first public transit systems in North America to have this,’ GO Transit’s marketing & advertising supervisor Nancy Pogue tells Media in Canada. ‘Once the trial is over and senior management agrees to a full rollout, things will really kick into gear.’ For the benefit of passengers who’d rather work, read, chat or snooze on the train, she adds, the monitors do not broadcast audio. For those who do want to hear what’s being broadcast, audio can be tuned in from 88.1FM and 88.5FM radio.

Handling all the technology and hardware for OTTV is Toronto-HQ’d United Mobile Broadcasting, whose VP of operations, Jonathan Hree, says the experiment is being ‘done with our sister company in Korea, where on-train television is already running in the subway system and commuter transit system throughout the country, as it is in Europe and other parts of Asia.’

Selling all the advertising space in the trains is Toronto’s Exclusive Advertising, which signed a 10-year deal with GO Transit in 1998, with an option to renew for another five years. Sales manager Paul Harp says he’s currently in the process of ‘alerting all the agencies’ about the potential goldmine of getting their messages to a captive audience of millions of commuters, many of whom are upper-income professionals who spend an average of 45 minutes per trip.

The programming Global Television has customized for OTTV, says spokesperson Grace Park, consists of ‘video-based features including news and information segments shows such as Around the World in 90 Seconds and Global Business Report, as well as segments profiling Canadian talent from the Northern Reflections documentary series, plus … celebrity news from Entertainment Tonight Canada. Text-based information focuses on weather, sports and news, delivering continuous, up-to-the-minute content from each.’