Video Streaming At Pizza Hut, Sears, Wal-Mart: Will Video Kill The Retail Stars? (Well, Maybe Just Hurt Them A Little)

Written by Evan Schuman
March 9th, 2011

Video streaming by retailers that by no means specialize in video streaming—including mega-brands Wal-Mart, Sears and Pizza Hut—has been criticized by some who see little profit in the moves. But the idea was never to become a 20th Century Fox. The idea is to somehow engage an audience who is expecting high-production videos at all times.

Still, are the extreme bandwidth and related demands of streaming video going to end up undermining more strategic network functions, such as selling stuff? Pizza Hut CIO Baron Concors was afraid that it might indeed do that. He still went ahead with video. But he wanted a third party—one that would keep these bandwidth-breaking B-movies far away from his pizza-selling sites—involved.

“I was not interested in undertaking the effort to build out a YouTube-like infrastructure, along with the concerns about bandwidth, security and site performance,” Concors said.

Consumers told Pizza Hut that “they wanted something to entertain them after they ordered and were waiting for their pizza to arrive,” he said. Hmmmm. How about reading? Calling a friend? Maybe interacting with a family member? Petting a dog is always good.

What did Concors have in mind? “We decided on a mix of movie trailers, clips and online games and ran that by a consumer group who liked what they saw.”

The concept is a seriously good one (assuming you’ve already laughed me out of the room with that absurd “reading” suggestion). If the customer wants to be entertained, why not have something customized to precisely fill the space between ordering and food arriving?

Why not let the customer associate all kinds of good feelings with the Pizza Hut brand, far beyond the food itself? There’s actually a really good reason: Delivering a film—and maintaining it without hiccups, at the high resolution consumers today expect—can take a lot of bandwidth and drag down page performance for everyone else.


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