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    Retailers Win with GSTV, Hughes Partnership

    The program uses satellite service to broadcast data, freeing customers from wires.

    GERMANTOWN, Md. -- With Gas Station TV's (GSTV) selection of Hughes Network Systems LLC's network to transmit entertainment, news, local weather and advertising to consumers at the gas pump, existing and new GSTV customers will see the benefits, both companies told CSNews Online.

    While the content of GSTV will not change, "Clearly it is faster overall and a more quality process for connectivity," David Leider, CEO of GSTV, told CSNews Online. "Overall reliability will go up with satellite and the economics are more positive."

    Using 20-inch, high-brighted LCD screens that display targeted content to customers at the pump, retailers see increased sales, while advertisers see increased return on investment, according to Hughes.

    "Pay at the pump has hurt the c-store business," he said. "We provide an audio/video promotion that drives people in." Stores that use GSTV have seen a significant sales lift against comparable store locations without GSTV, he added. "Research shows stores with GSTV that promote candy, saw sales increase 69 percent compared to stores without the service." In addition, stores with GSTV that marketed car washes on the screen saw sales of the service increase 78 percent, Leider told CSNews Online. "It's really created a huge win for our retail partners," he said.

    Further, in a 2006 study conducted by Nielsen Media Research, sister company to Convenience Store News, 84 percent of respondents said they found GSTV to be a good source of product information.

    As CSNews Online first reported yesterday, content for GSTV's digital signage system -- such as ESPN and ABC programs, weather updates, in-store and seasonal promotions and third-party advertising -- will be broadcast through Hughes' customizable broadband satellite network, HughesNet.

    Before the agreement, GSTV used a number of communication technologies, including DSL and T1, to transmit information to its customers. New customers will use Hughes' network, and existing stations will be converted to the satellite network later. The conversion process is expected to be completed by the end of the year, said Leider.

    "We're installing every day. We're in launch mode every day," he said. "For us to streamline the installation process with one company like Hughes, as opposed to other technologies where you have a lot of different people you have to work with, from a business standpoint, Hughes makes it a one-stop shop."

    As part of the agreement, Hughes will manage the broadband satellite network, including remote installation and maintenance, and GSTV will manage the content, media players, screens and speakers.

    "If you follow the history of Hughes, we've been a dominant player in petroleum industry -- it's near and dear to our hearts," Jeff Bixler, assistant vice president of business development for Hughes, told CSNews Online. It was a natural expansion to offer video services to the industry, he said.

    "It really seems to be a win-win for everyone involved," he added. "Instead of standing at the pump for four minutes with nothing to do, it’s cool for consumers to watch and get entertainment, news and learn about promotions going on at the store." On the petroleum marketing side, GSTV brings branding, customer loyalty, and the opportunity to up sell customers on a higher grade of gas and gain repeat business, he said. And jobbers, franchisees or store owners can have the opportunity to entice customers who may have otherwise just paid at the pump and drove off, with promotions to come into store.

    Hughes' satellite technology allows the digital signage solution to be implemented quicker than traditional broadcasting solutions such as DSL and cable, which can take weeks to be deployed at a location, Hughes stated.

    "On average, to date, [installation time is] anywhere from two to four weeks quicker," said Leider. "To be on top of the schedule and do it in the time frame we require is a huge help."

    The nationwide network currently operates in markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., and is expanding to San Francisco, Boston, Washington and Detroit by the end of the year, according to the companies.

    In the future, digital media could venture from the forecourt to inside the store.

    "We feel that although GSTV is focusing on the forecourt for digital media, where the opportunity is to drive traffic into the c-store, we're looking at solutions in the future that augment the network with in-store digital media as well," said Bixler.

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