In Memoriam – The News Ticker

Dylan Jones, Jones Digital Media

Today, after decades of abuse and over-exposure on a global scale,  the News Ticker quietly passed away.

The last known Ticker in existence apparently ticked its very last headline sometime around 3am Friday morning on a digital screen inside an empty sports bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

It’s sad demise was a symptom of it’s own success. “Over used, over exposed and over-here” was an oft heard comment from members of the public who soon grew weary of truncated headlines that made no sense, news they already knew, and celebrity gossip that no-one cared about.

The News Ticker was blessed with semi-illustrious career, firstly airing innocuously on cable news channels such as CNN, MSNBC and FOX News. However, the Ticker was ambitious for exposure and soon made its presence felt outside the home, following people wherever they went with a constant barrage of dated information and useless trivia. Experts speculated that the beginning of the end for the Ticker was firmly rooted in the emergence of mobile devices that allowed consumers to access this type of information for themselves, 24/7. It was a deathblow from which the Ticker would never recover.

However, no one will mourn the passing of the Ticker more than the companies who helped spread its influence onto digital signage screens in every corner of the world. It would be a futile exercise to name these companies (they know who they are) their agony is punishment enough as they  soldier on, tickerless. Many are now compelled to attend a compulsory rehabilitation process designed to help them make amends to the ones they hurt the most, their viewers, and start afresh, developing content that consumers might actually want to watch: for some, of course, this maybe too little too late.

The ticker will also be remembered for the famous ‘TickerGate‘ scandal several years ago when a maverick tech-op at a Walmart Super Center in Birmingham, Alabama rigged the news ticker on the checkout-line screens to read “free tube socks with every pair of camouflage pants” . This high-tech high-jinx caused a stampede to the apparel aisle which resulted in several shoppers being treated for minor injuries and a surplus of size 10 cotton socks that was finally remedied with a rush delivery from China.

A lesser-known malaise also accompanied the news ticker. Coined “Ticker Dependency” by psychological experts at the University of Phoenix, this was a particularly distressing illness that caused multiple digital signage operators to become overly dependent on their daily ‘hits’, leading them to neglect the more substantial content pieces they should have been developing.

The Ticker Ten Step‘ was the laborious process of weaning networks off their daily addiction and eventually gained global notoriety when industry blogs such as Digital Signage Insights and DailyDOOH dedicated valuable resources to stamping out this ‘gateway content’ that if left untreated would delude networks into thinking they were providing real content, when in reality it was a mere band-aid that would ultimately and painfully need to be removed.

As the memories of the Ticker slowly fade into the background, it will be remembered as a star that shone to brightly too soon. With judicial use as part of an overall programming strategy, perhaps the Ticker’s checkered past could have been re-written, but for now let’s just say the news ticker did go gently into that dark night, fading slowly out of the lower-third of the screen with barely a whimper or a headline of protest. We’ll leave the last word to the ticker as it pens it’s own obituary….

“… News ticker dead, millions affected … Lindsay Lohan to do jail time ….”

4 Responses to “In Memoriam – The News Ticker”

  1. Richard Lebovitz Says:

    Maybe you missed the news, but it appears the ticker may be reborn on the digital license plates being developed by a Bay-area company in California. A state representative has even introduced the idea into the legislature as a way of helping the state reduce its budget deficit.

  2. Dave Says:

    still convincing clients to skip having news tickers…

  3. Brent Says:

    As a DS developer, I couldn’t agree more. Tickers should die a horrible death. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t matter what we industry experts think. At the end of the day, there will always be a certain class of user that wants to pretend they are broadcast TV network and to them, that means adding a news ticker. Maybe in a few years this will fade, but those users are still out there. Providing guidance and recommendations is one thing, but in the end, if they want a ticker but your software doesn’t have it, they will look elsewhere. Market demand for this feature is still strong, with all kinds of feature requests still flowing in.

    An analogous example would be if Word removed the copy-paste feature because document writing “best practices” discourage plagiarism. Software developers as a whole are often forced to support the use cases our users desire, regardless of whether or not it can lead to abuse.

  4. Alex Bowles Says:

    “At last” says the Poetry Ticker, “my rival has collapsed”. Now “the road less traveled” will be on every single aisle.

    And if you don’t think the Bard can sell chocolate, come back on February 15th, when royalty-free sonnets are basking in total shelf-clearing glory. Let’s see what you have to say about alternative naming options for roses then.

    Wait, what’s that? You want dry wit and subtle irony? Ok, how’s “the best of e e cummings, brought to you by MS Word and it’s new & improved auto-correct feature.” Yeah, that was an easy pitch. Slam dunk, to be honest. So simple it practically phoned itself in.

    Or check out the great Shel Silverstein / McCormic Spice promo we just did with “Always Sprinkle Pepper In Your Hair”. Sure, we scared a few kids with the gypsies, but we sure moved some units. That was almost as big as the Oscar Meyer lunch meat lead-in, featuring choice selections Green Eggs & Ham. People wouldn’t stop talking about it. Or the ham.

    And by ‘people’ I mean ‘Oprah Winfrey’. Yes, that Oprah Winfrey. She thinks Poetry Ticking is the best.

    You don’t believe me? Just read her tweets. You can fit a lot of Haiku into 140 characters. We do that for her. I’m not kidding. Seriously, how do you think we can afford the all that premium Jet Fuel in our brand new Gulfstream?

    I know what you’re thinking, and you’re 100% right. It it truly all about distribution. But hey, the News Ticker blew it, and we’re stepping up. Oh, hey, I’ve gotta run. Nissan is on line two, wondering what we can do for the Stanza.

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