How to get half-price dining from your local TV station.

By Paul Michael on 8 January 2009 (Updated 18 August 2011) 16 comments
Photo: Laffy4K

Did you know that your local TV and radio stations regularly receive gift certificates as “payment” for air time? Believe it or not, retailers and restaurants are actually exchanging hundreds of gift certificates for exclusive air time on the networks. Then, the stations turn around and sell those certificates to viewers for half-price. They win. You win. And I’ll show you where to find them online.

I stumbled across this quite by accident. A friend of my wife sent her a link to a local TV station selling $50 gift certificates to a local restaurant for just $25 a piece. Being a cynical shopper, I was hesitant to believe it. It screamed of “buyer beware.” But, as it turns out, it’s completely legit. And after my usual digging around on the intertubes, I found out the back story. Stephanie Riegel, of BusinessReport.com, reported last June of this growing new trend among the TV and radio stations.

The company that came up with the concept is the Cleveland-based IncentRev, and it’s a coupon broker that facilitates the on-air promotions. Essentially, it works like this: A retailer—say, a new restaurant—“buys” exclusive air time with the station in exchange for 100 gift certificates, which the station then promotes on air for half-price. Viewers can buy the gift certificates on a first-come, first-serve basis by accessing the station’s Web site. All parties involved say it’s a win-win arrangement. Viewers get a bargain. A small retailer essentially receives free advertising. And IncentRev, which does all the paperwork, and the station split the money.

So, that's the back story. Like Stephanie points out, everyone's a winner in this deal. The restaurants and retailers get some pretty inexpensive air time. The stations get some extra cash. And the viewers get 50% discounts. However, you no longer need to watch or listen to the stations to access the deals. By doing a simple substitution in the web address I was forwarded, you can see deals in your own area, right now.

Call letters + web address = big savings.

I live in Colorado, and my local Fox affiliate's call letters are KDVR. When I put that in front of INCENTREV's web address, I get the following link: http://kdvr.incentrev.com/

I did a few others at random, just for kicks.

If you live in Ohio, you could try this one: http://wtte.incentrev.com/

Here's one for Mississippi: http://wlox.incentrev.com/

And one for Rhode Island: http://wwli.incentrev.com/

You see how easy the formula is. You can find a complete list of call letters for TV stations in your area right here. And this one features radio. Just click on your state and you'll get the info. Please note, note every station is running promotions or has signed up with IncentRev, so if the web address doesn't work just keep replacing the call letters until you find a deals page. There may be several in your state.

UPDATE: An even quicker method.

Wisebread reader Daniel pointed this out in the comments and it's super-quick. Instead of trial and error, type in your state, and or your city site followed by :incentrev.com into Google. Example: indiana site:incentrev.com. I found three local stations with offers not only from restaurants but indoor sky diving and Salsa classes. If anyone out there has top-notch web skills, maybe you could program a simple interface - just type in the name of your city and state and click "find." I'm sure it's easy enough if you know html. Which I don't I'm afraid.

Any catches?

Well, they do have a limited number of certificates for a restaurant or retailer, usually between 100-150. And they also go on sale at a certain time, and get snapped up fast. Tomorrow I'll be logging on at 9am to grab half-price certifictaes for a great Mexican restaurant in my area. Other people have also mentioned that TV and radio stations are becoming bogged down with anchors and DJs selling you all kinds of stuff, thanks to these certificate deals. But I really don't care. I don't watch them, I just go straight to the site to see what's available.

So, there you go. Find your local deals page, log on at the right time and bag yourself some cheap eats. Bon appetit.

 

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Guest's picture
Nick

This post prompted me to check my local news site, as they have a "thrifty thursday" where they post a half priced gift certificate.

None of my local stations participated in the site you mentioned, but with a little digging I discovered that my local station used a company out of Ohio called Neofill Web Services, and they claim to be the home of the half priced certificate scheme: http://www.neofill.com/

Digging a little deeper I see that they also have a site that will AGGREGATE local deals across media stations so you can see all the deals in a community without having to go station by station (at least of those who participate with them): http://www.halfoffdeals.com/

Their site has the same deals for my area (16509) as the local TV station did (yourerie.com).

One of the best ones on there is two $25 gift certificates to a local video game store.. $50 games for $25! Cool!

Guest's picture
Saving Fan

I've used this site a number of times too: Half Off America . Hope this helps.

Paul Michael's picture

Thanks for the tips. I'll check them out.

Guest's picture
daniel

I didn't find any deals with using my local call letters and that took awhile to do. Using a google hack made this even easier, just open google and put the following search in:

your state, and or your city site:incentrev.com

Example: indiana site:incentrev.com

This gave me links straight to deals without having to know the call letters.

Myscha Theriault's picture

This is super duper cool, Paul. Thanks for giving us the scoop.

Paul Michael's picture

I'm not as tech savvy as I'd like to be. Thanks Daniel, I'll add that into the post.

Guest's picture

Sounds like a cool concept. You can get the same kind of deals with less digging simply by going to Restaurant.com where you can usually get $25 restaurant gift certificates for $10.

Paul Michael's picture

As far as I can see, the certificates given away by the TV stations don't have a minimum spend. Most of the restaurant.com coupons come with anywhere from $35 to $200 spending minimums (buy a $100 certificate for $40, you'll have to spend $200 to get your $60 back). It's not like a gift card.

Guest's picture

Checked the site for Phoenix, but nothing for restaurants came up. Thanks for the information; I will check the site occasionally. Thanks to the poster for the restaurant.com tip. We actually rarely eat out but it would be nice to get half price when we do!

Guest's picture

Thanks Paul for the information about the minimum spending requirements for the restaurant.com coupons. Good to know.

Guest's picture
terrmvay

A number of Clear Channel radio stations do this in Phoenix (possibly in other markets). For example KEZ 99.9.

They have links to other Phoenix stations that have deals on the same page.

Guest's picture
Billy

Thanks for the awesome post! I just found another that works for several stations in my area.
mediawebconnect.com

Same scheme as the first for Google searches. Although, I had more luck with my abbreviated state with a comma and space in front of it (, CA as opposed to "California") because it was found more in the address of the businesses than the name of the businesses.

Guest's picture
Guest

The New England Cable News network does the same thing, once a week (on friday). Link below.

http://necn.projecthalfprice.com/

Guest's picture
Guest

For me, our station's is wtap.mediawebconnect.com
Maybe try that?

Guest's picture
Guest

or you could log on to www.dininghalfoff.com or if your in south florida - southfloridadines.com , over 500 restaurants to choose from - dininghalfoff.com is part of nbc and is opening cities worldwide

Guest's picture
dswaim

I beleive that IncentRev should take some responsibility for these certificates if a business closes.  My co-workers and myself are very loyal to this business and buy numerous certificates.  The wild wing cafe closed and left me with over $200.00 with certificates that are of no use to anyone.  I understand that you can't be responsible for any restaurant that closes,  but you should still have the decency to take the coupons off the "for sale" list when the restarant is closed.  I bought these and they were shipped to me, then the next day a few of us went there to eat and what do you know?  The doors were locked!  This should be considered fraud but since you have it in your statement that you are not responsible for closed restarants, you get by with it.  Just have the common decency to at least refund half of the charges.  This kind of business is making everyone here think hard and twice before ordering any more of thes from anywhere.  All we ask is that you just be fair, nothing more. 

DSwaim