5 Reasons Why Times Square NYE is the Out-of-Home Industry’s Superbowl

Posted by Jeff Tan On January 10, 2016

Since the very first iron and wood ball lowered at One Times Square on NYE over 100 years ago, the event has been the universally recognized symbol of welcoming the new year. All eyes (literally) are on the 230+ digital screens peppering the Times Square area, and the event is the yearly showpiece for many global advertisers. For the Out-of-Home industry this is our Superbowl. Here are 5 reasons why.


1. The Huge Audience – The numbers are staggering. An estimated 1 million heads in Times Square look up to watch the ball drop and over 1 billion people globally tune in, making the event the largest viewed recurring spectacle each year. Comparatively, Superbowl XLIX had an attendance of 70,000 people and attracted 114.4M million viewers.

2. The Prestige – A high-profile billboard symbolizes strength and success. Since 1904, Times Square NYE has featured advertising from the world’s largest brands and has attracted huge attention and investment. General Motors was one of the first to advertise on NYE with a bright-lit Chevrolet sign drawing the attention of 200,000 party-goers. The brand has made regular appearances since, including the suspension of two Tahoes above a Chevy-branded stage in 2006.

3. The Dollars Spent – Similar to the Superbowl, some brands are known for saving up all of their advertising dollars throughout the year to splurge at Times Square on NYE.

A 30s TV spot during Superbowl XLIX would have set you back $9M. At 114.4 million viewers, this equates to 3.9c per impression. It would cost approximately $3.5M to surround the Times Square Ball with a handful of digital screens on NYE. With a billion global viewers, the effective cost per impression could be less than 0.01c.

4. The Creativity – A billboard is literally a blank canvas, open to blue-sky possibilities. It’s a Creative’s dream to have their work admired in Times Square, broadcast to the world. With the convergence of media and developments in technology, Times Square advertisers are expressing creativity in unique ways.

In recent years, Mastercard asked consumers to post images of their holiday “Priceless Moments” on social media with the #PricelessNewYear hashtag. The best content was shown on Times Square digital screens on NYE.

5. The Event Itself – Both spectacles are marquee events that attract huge names. In 2015, Taylor Swift and Ryan Seacrest were the stars of the Times Square NYE show, while Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz provided half-time entertainment at Superbowl XLIX.

Further, the billboards at Times Square and the Superbowl TV commercials make the ads themselves a big draw; advertisers can expect intense consumer interest.
I was very lucky to be in Times Square for the 2016 celebration, and had an amazing view of the ball. As expected, there was a huge turnout of global brands this year. Mastercard launched an impressive display featuring a 3 panel domination to the right side of the Times Tower and another screen behind the ball. I’m looking forward to seeing what future cohorts of advertisers have to offer.

Jeff Tan is VP, Director, Strategy, at Posterscope USA.

Jeff Tan