If Bigger Is Better, NBC Is Moving Up
A rendering of a sign set to appear in Times Square next month.
By STUART ELLIOTT
September 4, 2006
After a decade of promoting its television programs on a giant Times Square sign, NBC Universal is moving a block away to a bigger space, co-sponsored by a different maker of TV sets.
The NBC Universal AstroVision video screen on 1 Times Square, co-sponsored with the Panasonic division of Matsushita Electric, has been a visible part of the neighborhood since 1996. With the 10-year lease on the sign expiring, NBC Universal sought a larger presence in the Times Square media gulch, said John Miller, chief marketing officer at the NBC Universal Television Group, particularly after 1 Times Square became covered with video screens for other brands like Budweiser and Discover Card.
“It looks like a shelf at Best Buy with monitors stacked atop each other,” Mr. Miller said. “It became a little bit less special.”
NBC Universal, part of General Electric, is teaming with Sharp for its newest screen, which is scheduled to go live sometime in October. The new screen, sandwiched between two oversize billboards that will also advertise NBC Universal, will be above the Champs Sports store at 5 Times Square, on the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street.
The screen and billboards will total almost 3,500 square feet, compared with the 1,400 square feet of the AstroVision sign. Neither NBC Universal nor Sharp would discuss the financial terms of the lease, also for 10 years, although it is estimated to total in the eight figures.
The new screen will carry the Sharp Aquos brand name, after the Aquos line of flat-panel TV sets with liquid-crystal display screens. It will be Sharp’s debut in Times Square.
“It’s all about the showmanship in Times Square, one of the most-visited areas in the U.S.,” said Bob Scaglione, senior vice president and general manager for marketing at the Sharp Electronics Marketing Corporation of America. “We were notably absent.”
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company