Your NYC Commute Is About to Suck Even More, Thanks to Video Ads on the Subway

'I'm watchin' here!' 'I'm watchin' here!'

Get ready for one more distraction on the train. MTA
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Big Apple residents famously have a love-hate relationship with the subway. Oh, who are we kidding: it’s mostly hate.

Sure, it’s far and away the largest, most comprehensive public transportation system in the U.S. But then there are the rats, the smells, the overcrowding, the problems stemming from a signal system installed before World War II, and the waiting … and the waiting … and the waiting.

Don’t get us started on the back-and-forth between the governor and the mayor over who’s responsible for fixing the damn thing or the fact that most MTA board members and executives—who don’t live anywhere near the city—never even use the system when they visit.

Now there’s one more reason to be grumpy in the morning: video ads on the subway.

As one can see from this preview video, the “cutting edge digital displays” will replace those static ads for Thinx underwear, breast enhancement services or board certified dermatologist and ageless wonder Doctor Jonathan Zizmor.

There will be 50,000 of them across the MTA system as per the organization’s contract with Outfront Media, its longtime out-of-home advertising partner. As part of the deal announced this week, Outfront will expand its On Smart Media platform, allowing media shops to make real-time, data-driven buys on your (least) favorite train line.

“The experience for riders will be transformed through enhanced digital communications, aesthetics, and creativity,” read a statement from Outfront CEO Jeremy Male. “We are confident that its appeal to advertisers can grow this important resource for the MTA, its customers, and our stakeholders.”

This won’t be the very first time that moving images have appeared on the walls of your train, though they’ve mostly been MTA announcements and promotions for the new Second Avenue line.

The ads will alternate with such MTA messages to provide yet another distraction during your commute. And the subway maps themselves will soon be digitized as well—but don’t even think about asking someone to move their head so you can see the ads behind them.

New Yorkers ready to get irritated should note that this visual cacophony does have one saving grace: the ads will be completely silent.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.