Saturday, December 29, 2007

TVs coming to Borders—and everywhere else

Today’s Journal Gazette includes a story from Sherry Slater about TVs coming to a Borders near you:

[T]he company is installing…two TVs per store. They’ll be installed in the multimedia and periodicals sections.

“It’s really going to be concentrated in that one area,” [Borders spokeswoman Kolleen] O’Meara said.

Borders installed high-definition TVs in 60 stores in November and 250 more locations will receive screens by the end of February. All of the company’s more than 1,000 stores will be hooked up by Jan. 31, 2009. O’Meara wasn’t sure where the local store falls on the schedule.

“We are an entertainment destination,” O’Meara reminded me.

The content on the TVs at Borders will include interviews, musical performances, book discussions and cooking demonstrations. Some of the people featured include former President Clinton, British singer Joss Stone, author Khaled Hosseini and cookbook author Nigella Lawson.
Make no mistake, though: the primary purpose of these TVs will be to advertise products for sale at Borders. It’s part of a creeping trend that’s affecting the way we consume media: all television, all the time, wherever you are.

In her story, Slater refers to her own discomfort about the idea of TVs in a bookstore, and she quotes a local bookstore customer who thinks of the TVs as “a nuisance”:
Fort Wayne-based attorney [Tom Markle] thinks of bookstores as quiet places, similar to libraries.

“What would people think if you put TVs in a library?” he asked.
But guess what, Tom? The main branch of the Allen County Public Library already has multiple TVs—in the atrium, and in the second-floor young adults area, for example. No, they don’t infringe upon areas reserved for quiet reading, but neither do those at Borders. As Slater reports:
Everywhere I look in this imagined nightmare, another row of TV screens lurks, destroying my previously pleasant mood.

Borders spokeswoman… O’Meara assured me it’s not going to be like that.

“We want to keep the nooks and crannies of the store quiet for those who like to browse for books,” she said.
Borders is just one of the places you can expect to find TVs in the near future. Earlier this month I met with a company new to Fort Wayne called The Neoti Broadcast Network. Neoti installs TVs in restaurants and other locales, with screens split between a TV signal (CNN, ESPN, etc.) and advertising for local products and services. The goal? To incorporate advertising into a medium that audiences are growing increasingly comfortable with: the out-of-home television. Their gamble? Your eyes will go where the TVs are, so those TVs may as well include a perpetual string of ads.

I think they’re likely to succeed, primarily because as much as we grumble about TVs encroaching on our formerly commercial-free spaces, we can’t turn our eyes away. As a result, we’re going to continue to see more TVs in public spaces. And as TiVo and other devices make in-home advertising easier to avoid, advertising will represent an increasing share of the content shown on out-of-home TVs.

No comments: