New Times Square LED Sign Could Be Largest in the World

By Helen Vince
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Digital Signage – Over the past few decades, New York City’s Times Square has undergone a dramatic change, from sleazy adult entertainment district to its current Disney/Las Vegas-like center of lights, sounds and family-friendly attractions. 

Last week, the neighborhood added what is being called the world’s largest high-definition video display – a 24-million pixel LED advertising sign that, longer than a football field and eight stories tall, spans an entire city block at the Marriott Marquis Hotel at 1535 Broadway.

With 23,793,664 pixels (10,048 × 2,368) on more than 25,610 square feet (2,379 m2) of seamless digital canvas, this makes it the highest-resolution LED video display in the world of this size, exceeding a 4K ultra-high definition display by 15 million pixels. Built and owned by one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the United States, Vornado Realty Trust, the sign is managed by Clear Channel Spectacolor, a brand division of Clear Channel Outdoor, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia Inc. Advertising time on the massive sign has been quoted by the New York Times at $2.5M per month and, according to Clear Channel, Google is the billboard’s first client. (Click here to see a Google Maps capture of the display construction earlier this year.)

The 77.69 × 329.65-foot (23.7 x 100.5 m) installation is based on the Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision AVL-ODT10 large-scale display, with a 10mm pixel pitch of 3-in-1 surface mount LEDs (SMD) featuring Mitsubishi’s Real Black LED technology, offering viewers a high-contrast display even in bright sunlight. Mitsubishi supplied a special, custom-built control system to provide pixel-to-pixel mapping of content. The image area of the display can be segmented to display multiple pixel-for-pixel 1080 HD or 4k images simultaneously, and the display canvas allows for two native 4k images to be displayed side-by-side, with pixels remaining in the height and width for other content. A Mitsubishi spokesperson declined to comment on the power draw of the display.

The Real Black LEDs provide a continuous black face to the display, which Mitsubishi says was not previously possible with red, green and blue (RGB) lamp LED products or traditional SMD products which utilize white faced LEDs. “The Real Black LED technology revolution is just beginning with fifteen other displays using Real Black LED technology coming on line in North America over the next few months”, says Todd Stih, national sales manager, Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc.

The Times Square Alliance says the busy intersection at Times Square is passed every day by an average of 300,000 pedestrians and 115,000 vehicle drivers and passengers. According to TAB ratings, the new display will deliver more than 2 million impressions with adults 18+ passing this prime location weekly. In addition to the billboard’s direct exposure to consumers in the Square, marketers investing in this opportunity will enjoy secondary impressions from media outlets, located nearby or broadcasting prominent events. To date, one of the largest outdoor video displays has been the 12.5-million LED Viva Vision screen forming a canopy at the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas. Times Square is definitely pushing the envelope. – Aldo Cugnini