One of the original digital out of home media networks is shutting down after 30 years – a victim of changing times and a virus that reduced the viewing audience to bare minimums.
The CNN Airport Network will switch off as of the end of March, with CNN President Jeff Zucker referencing the steep decline in viewing numbers as airports emptied in the past 10 months. Zucker also noted how people are now looking at their own personal screens when they are in departure lounges, not at screens hanging from departure lounge walls and ceilings.
“I am sure most of us have a story to tell about which airport we were at when we first learned of a major news event,” Zucker wrote in a memo to CNN staff. “Be proud that we had a hand in sharing some incredible stories with many millions of people over the past three decades.”
The network has screens in 60 airports and 2,400+ departure lounges. It ran edited, repurposed CNN material coupled with targeted advertising. The network is tilts more to broadcasting than most ideas about digital signage, but the network allowed local ad insertion in almost half of the venues, and was/is set up for emergency alerts.
I’m going to assume CNN/Warner Media probably looked at selling the contracts and infrastructure, but that would be hard with airport traffic off by 95% or whatever, and the way different media companies work with airports. Would JC Decaux want to sell screen time at an airport where the rest of the ad concession was with, let’s say, Lamar? Would ad concession contracts even allow that?
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.