Do people want to watch TV out of home?

November 30, 2010 by Dave Haynes

Turner Broadcasting and IndoorDIRECT have worked a content deal that will see the broadcaster’s broad portfolio of content available to run in some fashion on DOOH screens installed in some of the bigger quick-service and fast casual restaurant chains in the U.S., including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

Reports Adweek:

The deal underscores the importance of growing channels like OOH nets as media companies and advertisers try to keep up with consumers in the increasingly fragmented landscape.

Both sides say the deal is unique. According to Holly Wasson, vp, asset management at Turner Media Group, it’s the first time the company has completed a license deal with a single OOH provider that covers its entire portfolio of networks. Given IndoorDirect’s digital capabilities, Wasson said, Turner will be able to supply content that will vary by day and time period on the IndoorDirect Network. For example, Cartoon Network will supply programming on Saturdays and after school, while CNN will feed material at the dinner hour. And (Conan) O’Brien, of course, will be seen later in the evening.

“We can put the right content, and promotional messages, in front of the right audiences,” she said.

The Turner deal signals a program strategy shift for the OOH network, according to Steven Justman, president, entertainment, marketing and sales at IndoorDirect. Until now, he said, the network has done deals with dozens of content providers, including ones with various sports leagues, music labels and networks such as NBC, CBS and ABC. But none of those deals has covered entire program portfolios, like the Turner pact does. “We’re moving toward a strategy of fewer, bigger, better partnerships,” he said. “Turner being the first.”

IndoorDirect has a monthly reach of more than 15 million diners, per Nielsen. Over 1,100 restaurants are in the network, and that number is expected to double over the next year, per Justman. More than 50 national advertisers currently buy time on the network.

I’ve not seen an Indoor Direct screen as the company requires electricity, and Canada is not scheduled to get that for another couple of years (that and IndoorDIRECT just isn’t up here). So I can’t comment on the content mix now, or this new stuff.

I have, and have always had, big qualms about “shovelware” material that gets pulled from one medium and slapped into another that has a totally different audience and viewing dynamic. What works in the home doesn’t necessarily work in a food court.

But the two parties are saying some good things about using programming that’s relevant to the time of day. I don’t know that people are any more interested in Wolf Blitzer’s news at dinner than another time of day, but I suppose testing will prove that out.

The larger question is whether broadcast TV – unless it gets some great editing and careful thought from editors who understand the audience and venue – works well (or at all) in these kinds of places. There are countless examples to suggest shoveling TV into out of home does not.

It would be great if DOOH was a medium with unique, purpose-created content, but those costs would be crippling. So pulling from other TV and other mediums is going to be part of the deal for a while.

The good news is that there’s also a big body of experience about how to work with TV, and a better acknowledgement of the challenge in making that leap. I’d love to see Turner and the IndoorDIRECT guys crack the code and run programming made for TV but works well out of home.

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