TV Channel to be Added to McDonald’s MenuBy Todd • Oct 19th, 2011 • Category: Burger Blog
Want fries with that Big Mac? How about some original TV programming?
In a somewhat eyebrow-raising move, burger giant McDonald’s has announced the rollout of “McTV.” A digital in-store network featuring content produced specifically for Mickey D’s, the McDonald’s Channel will soon be up and on the air in 800 restaurants in Southern and Central California after successful testing in LA, Las Vegas, and San Diego. But lest you think this is a small-potatoes closed circuit venture, consider this: the California market alone will reach up to 20 million sets of eyeballs per month. That makes it a truly formidable force that could compete with (and beat) many more established networks on basic cable. If the network performs well in Cali, expect the channel to go nationwide.
(photo by Liz O. Baylen, LA Times)
Allen Adamson from brand-building firm Landor Associates talked to the LA Times about the strategic move to reach customers. “While they’re in line getting their hamburger there is no escape… [It's] “one of the last bastions where you have a captive audience,” he said. “The podiums where companies can tell their stories have eroded… after the Super Bowl, the list gets very short very fast.”
But the McDonald’s channel won’t air a never-ending rotation of current and classic Golden Arches ads. Instead, they’ve arranged for original programming from the likes of BBC America, LA news affiliate KABC, and Survivor creator Mark Burnett. The lineup will reportedly include heartwarming human interest features like “The McDonald’s Achievers,” which profiles local high school and college athletes; “Mighty Moms,” spotlighting local mothers juggling home life with careers; reports on musical acts, tours, and new releases; segments covering fashion, art, nightlife, lifestyle, and culture news; along with interactive elements on Web- and mobile-based platforms.
Only eight minutes per hour will be dedicated to ads, and McDonald’s-themed spots will occupy just 90 seconds of that, according to Leland Edmondson, founder of ChannelPort, the company tapped to spearhead the new network. “This network is not intended to be all about McDonald’s. It is all about the consumer.” But Edmondson allows that there may be some occasional segments on aspects of McDonald’s food operation or the chain’s philanthropy efforts by Ronald McDonald House Charities.
It’s all part of the clown’s efforts to stay relevant in the crowded fast-food/quick-service restaurant landscape. With many locations offering free Wi-Fi and upscale decor, McDonald’s is clearly aiming to compete with your favorite local coffee shop or cafe, a place where you might meet with someone or go just to hang for a while. “People today are using our restaurants differently than they have in the past,” said Danya Proud, a McDonald’s USA spokesperson, “they’ve become more of a destination.” And they’re convinced that two 42- to 46-inch hi-def screens will help. (The screens will be visible and audible from 70% of the restaurant, with designated “quiet zones” for those who wish to inhale their Quarter Pounders in peace.)