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Pizza Hut TV: Mouth-Watering, or Half-Baked?


In-store network served with extra cheese.

Like the KFCs (YUM) and McCafés (MCD) before it, Pizza Hut is flirting with rebranding to become more hip. Several of the chain's locations will be renamed The Hut, presumably to capitalize on the ultra-cool dwellings of Swaziland and Botswana.

In addition to the new name, The Hut will feature an in-store digital video network to entertain customers while they wait for their P'Zones. Appropriately enough, the network is called Hut TV, and is totally unrelated to Princess Leia's Tatooine captor, Jabba.

By way of testing the waters, 20 The Hut stores in Jacksonville, Florida and 4 in Dallas have already been equipped with digital video monitors. Similar to the dedicated networks presented in bars, Hut TV features trivia and interactive games. CBS (CBS) distribution has also joined in and allowed clips from Wheel of Fortune and Entertainment Tonight to be aired in the stores.There's even a CBS news ticker -- perfect for when another study on American obesity is released.

The network has yet to offer time to advertisers, though the company has indicated it's a possibility for the future.

Vice president of marketing Bob Kraut told Mediaweek that, "Hut TV is a way to engage and entertain customers and make those who own our stores feel better about Pizza Hut."

A menu overhaul and higher wages might accomplish the same thing.

Pizza Hut isn't the only chain to experiment with the multimedia angle. Denny's (DEN) will be premiering the also-appropriately named network TheBITE, produced by IndoorDIRECT, which also handles channels for Wendy's (WEN), Arby's and Hardee's (CKR). McDonald's is also reportedly getting ready to join the media foray.

Given how I feel after eating Mickey D's, I'd suggest a partnership with TNT.
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