Commentary

Zooming Along: Zoom Media Buys Health Club Network

While other media are looking moribund, digital out-of-home is positively vibrant, with networks striking partnerships and making acquisitions to expand their reach. In the latest deal, Zoom Media and Marketing has acquired the Wellness Health Education Network, a subscription-based service that operates digital signage displaying health-related content and advertising in 255 fitness clubs around the country. Zoom didn't divulge the terms of the deal.

The acquisition expands Zoom's footprint in U.S. fitness clubs by almost 25%, from about 1,095 to 1,350 (including foreign locations, Zoom's network totals 2,000), and also gives it access to WHEN's digital content. Zoom plans to import WHEN content, which is tailored for the fitness environment with news, lifestyle tips and facility-specific information, to the rest of its fitness network. With WHEN in its portfolio, Zoom can reach fitness club patrons with a mix of entertainment and relevant informational content, according to Dennis Roche, president of Zoom Media, who emphasized the benefits for patrons and advertisers alike.

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The news of the WHEN acquisition comes a few months after Zoom announced it raised $30 million in a new round of funding led by ABS Capital Partners; at the time Zoom said it would use the funds to make strategic acquisitions in the out-of-home advertising market, with a special focus on digital out-of-home. Zoom made a number of acquisitions even before obtaining the new funding, including the purchase in March 2008 of Alloy's nightlife network, covering 2,000 venues, followed by the purchase of ClubCom, another digital out-of-home network serving fitness clubs, for a rumored $20 million in September 2008. In October Zoom and ClubCom announced a deal to bring ClubCom digital displays to Bally Total Fitness, creating a network called Bally TV.

In addition to fitness club and nightlife venues, Zoom also owns static and digital out-of-home networks reaching restaurants, family entertainment centers, bowling allies, and the like. Overall its various networks cover a total of over 10,000 venues, including 25,000 digital displays and 55,000 billboard spots.

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