It seems like we can’t avoid the small screen these days. Even if you’ve ditched your TV because you watch shows on your laptop or iPad, you’re bound to see TV screens in thousands of restaurants, stores and even doctors’ offices.
These TVs aren’t tuned in to your favourite soap opera or hockey team. They’re showcasing catered in-store entertainment. McDonald’s recently announced the creation of McTV, a customized digital network that will feature content from the likes of Mark Burnett and BBC America.
The channel, which will be making its debut in 800 Southern and Central California restaurants, will screen programs and ads on a one-hour cycle.
As Time’s Allison Berry points out, this is a smart move for the fast food giant. “The channel should be an effective way to present a positive, controlled brand image, particularly after McDonald’s has taken hits by its portrayal in Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me,” she wrote.
But McDonald’s isn’t the first company to commission in-store content. Here’s a look at other brands that have embraced the screen in a theatre, fast-food restaurant or megastore near you.
Pizza Pizza is ahead of McDonald’s when it comes to in-store content. The Canadian pizza chain teamed up with Rogers Digital Network Solutions back in 2008 to create Pizza Pizza-TV.
The narrowcast network – available in hundreds of the pizza chain’s stores across southern Ontario – features local sports highlights, entertainment news and music videos.
Wal-Mart’s in-store entertainment system dates back to 1997. According to USA Today, Wal-Mart had installed almost 130,000 TVs in approximately 3,000 stores in the United States by 2007.
Which means that Wal-Mart TV had the potential to reach about 127 million shoppers a week. What’s unique about Wal-Mart’s system is that each store can fine-tune the message that best suits clients at a given time.
Gone are the days when trailers were the first thing you saw at the local cineplex. Movie theatres often showcase trivia questions, exclusive interviews with stars and entertainment news before the lights dim and the feature presentation begins.
Cineplex Entertainment (which operates theatres in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia) has expanded its content beyond the theatre; the company distributes 700,000 copies of Cineplex Magazine in theatre lobbies.
The magazine, which is published 12 times a year, features original content and celebrity interviews. Similarly, Cineplex.com features tons of original content as well, including video interviews and daily blog posts.