The McD TV Is Free, The Fries You Have To Pay For

BudTV bombed, but that’s not stopping McDonald’s from throwing some big fat chips on the content marketing pile.

According to Los Angeles Times, McDonald’s Channel, a digital network of exclusive original content targeted at dine-in customers is ready for prime time.

The McDonald’s channel, being rolled out slowly during the next few months and will soon be up in 800 McDonald’s restaurants in Southern and Central California, is being spearheaded by ChannelPort Communications LLC, a Los Angeles-based company specializing in entertainment content, technology and brand management. Programming will be anything but low-key and grass-roots: Reality TV mogul Mark Burnett, BBC America and KABC-TV Eyewitness News are on board to provide content for the new network.

The venture, which has already been tested in L.A., San Diego and Las Vegas, is expected to reach 18 million to 20 million people a month, which ChannelPort executives said would be one of the largest daytime audiences in the region. If successful, the project, which will also include interactive elements on Web and mobile platforms, may expand nationwide.

The dining areas of participating restaurants will be fitted with two high-definition 42- to 46-inch screens that will be visible from 70% of eating areas. Audio will be heard from the screen or ceiling speakers. Those who do not want to see or hear the channel will be able to eat in “quiet zones.”

Personally, I get excited when I see how large the digital hole, or opportunity, really is. When brands own the entire channel, their marketing partners have so much more “space” to fill than they once did. Sure, some of the content is bound to be weak, but what doesn’t connect brand to customer successfully can be discarded for something better.

As brands go deeper and deeper into not just sponsoring content, but producing content themselves, some will become superior storytellers and entertainment experience makers. Others won’t. Same as it ever was.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.