Impressive and massive screen network switched on in Beijing subway system

September 11, 2009 by Dave Haynes


As spotted in OOH-TV …

This is pretty impressive – a $10 million, nearly 2,600 screen network in Beijing’s subway system, on the platforms and in the rail cars.

(BEIJING, 8 Sept 2009) – During a special launch event in Beijing, Digital Media Group (DMG) unveiled more than US$10 million worth of digital media innovation for the much anticipated Beijing Metro Line 4.

In 2005, the Hong Kong MTR Corporation Limited (MTR) signed a concession agreement with the Beijing Municipal Government for the operational rights of Line 4.  Since then, DMG has worked in cooperation with the MTR to design and develop the Metro line’s digital media capabilities, investing more than US$10 million into the subway infrastructure.  This marks the first time that such digital media capabilities have been embedded into a Metro line from its first conception.  DMG is also the sole digital media provider for Line 4, and has exclusive advertising rights for the next 10 years.

Line 4 is set to begin operations later this month, and will be the newest and most advanced subway line in the country.  With a total length of 28.2 km, including 24 different stations, Line 4 will be one of the most important lines in Beijing.  Running North-South, it will cover such popular areas as Xuanwumen, Xidan, Xizhimen, Zhongguancun, Peking University, and Beijing South Railway Station. 

From a technology standpoint, Line 4 is unparalleled.  Utilizing DMG’s proprietary Passenger Information System (PIS) technology, each station will be able to forecast the arrival time of the next train down to the second.  The PIS is fully automated and includes important features such as an emergency alarm system and automatic updates of information and content to the digital screens in the train cars and stations.  Also built into the Metro line are 802.11a wireless capabilities, allowing faster and more reliable data transfers—making live media broadcasts possible within the fast-moving train cars.  Even the stations are specially designed, equipped with a sound system that allows for up to three speakers to simultaneously broadcast three different media channels, with minimized sound overlap and noise. 

At the launch event, DMG unveiled new forms of digital media never before seen in China. Innovative ring-shaped displays that will be placed in the entrance of major station lobbies are one example.  These displays consist of five 42’’ LCD screens arranged in the shape of a circle. Unlike regular display screens, the ring-shaped displays utilize customized software that enables them to play unique video footage that creates the effect of a graphic linkage between the five screens.  This graphic linkage allows the pictures on the ring-shaped displays to be more dynamic than those on typical screens. 

Track-side High Definition display screens are another highlight of the new Line 4, which are much more eye-catching than the traditional static light boxes.  These 103” High-Definition screens are the industry’s largest, and will be placed on the wall opposite the entrance doors as commuters wait by the track.  These two examples of new digital media are among the total 2,588 display screens that have been installed in-train and on the platforms of Line 4. 

Thomas G. Tsao, CEO of DMG, said, “Line 4 in Beijing will be world’s most advanced subway line from a digital media standpoint.  Passengers are going to have an incredible viewing experience.  Going forward, this is how all subways will be designed – with digital media capabilities embedded from the very beginning.  China is leading the world in subway innovation, and DMG is making this possible.” 

The company did the software in-house and uses embedded systems.

Getting back $10 million over 10 years in ad revenues should not be a biggie. The wild card is how much the company has to pay in concession fees to be in there, something that can cripple an otherwise viable media network in China. What I like is the passenger information stuff, which makes the network actually valuable to viewers, and therefore screens they will reliably look at. 

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