City Of Toronto Weighs Media Partnership To Juice Up Major Square With Yet More LED

January 20, 2017 by Dave Haynes

Via Urban Toronto

The city of Toronto is going down the interesting path of being a major media partner in the city’s busiest public gathering point – Yonge-Dundas Square.

A proposed $3.8-million deal for Outfront Media to put in a series of large format LED screens in the square has cleared the city mayor’s executive committee, but is still subject to more review. The screens would be there on a 10-year lease, with the city getting the revenue, presumably save the commission and management fee Outfront would take to make its money. The city estimates it could realize as much as $7 million in ad revenues over 10 years.

The screens would be on masts and other structures in the square, which is already lined with many, many digital and analog billboards on privately owned buildings. Some of the existing media owners are arguing these new displays, in the publicly-owned square,  would block the view from street level of their billboards.

Part of the rationale for the screens – aside from easy newfound media revenues – is using the screens for public events, like broadcasts of sports teams if they happen to make the playoffs in their leagues (not that common in Toronto, sadly). They would also be used as large format screens complementing public concerts in the square, which typically require third-party LED rentals from AV firms.

The proposed digital screens vary in height from 15.2 to 10.4 metres.

It could be argued that this is not much different from the city granting media rights and getting a rev share from ads on city bus shelters and subway platforms, but those tend to be exclusive rights. In this case, the city is seeking a sign bylaw amendment to put in ad boards that will compete with other media companies that have already invested seriously in big boards, assuming the sightlines were locked down and competition was already evident.

More coverage here …


  1. Editor says:

    My understanding is the main impetus for these screens is demand from organizations that rent Yonge-Dundas Square for promotional events. They’ve come to expect access to some degree of digital signage in public squares these days and, surprisingly, this particular square has hardly any … it’s just surrounded by tonnes of it.

  2. Dave Haynes says:

    agreed on that being one driver, but I have been around enough landlords during digital signage discussions who were enchanted by the idea of free money, and maybe $7 million of it

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