The old HSN has its roots from a radio station managed by Paxson which in 1977; due to an advertiser's liquidity problem, the company was paid in can openers. Left with having to raise the funds, on-air personality Bob Circosta went on the radio and sold the can openers for $9.95 each. Lo and behold, the can openers sold out and an industry was born. Bob Circosta later became the new network's first ever home shopping host and would eventually sell 75,000 different products in over 20,000 hours of live, on-air television.
As of August 21st 2008 HSN spun off from IAC as a privately held company trading under the NASDAQ ticker symbol HSNi.
In 1986, HSN began a second network that broadcast over the air on a number of TV stations it had acquired under the name Silver King Broadcasting. In 1999, the stations were sold to IAC founder Barry Diller and changed its name to USA Broadcasting, with a few of them ending HSN programming outside of overnight hours and taking on a local programming format equivalent to Toronto's Citytv. In 2001, they were sold again, this time to Univision, and all HSN programs ceased on those channels; however, HSN continues to air on low-power stations. Ventana Television (ventana meaning window in Spanish) has the same street address as HSN, and is the holding company for its broadcast licenses.
Kara Connor, Todd Newton, Candace Kumai, and Christian Anderson joined HSN as the new hosts in 2008. Candace Kumai was removed from HSN's website schedule and host bio page in July 2008.
Past home shopping hosts on HSN and America's Store include:
HSN also operates a series of outlet stores in Florida and Tennessee. HSN broadcasts 24 hours a day, 364 days a year. On Christmas, a mix of special programming airs from Christmas Eve afternoon until midnight on December 25. For the first twelve years, a looping Yule log was aired from Noon Christmas Eve to Midnight December 26th. Several years the show allows members of the staff to go on camera with their families to say hello to relatives back home.
In 1997, HSN formally launched its second nationwide electronic retail venture, a 24 hour network under the America's Store name (it had operated similar concepts of more limited scale since 1988). This station took advantage of HSN's already extensive network of low-power transmitters located in many major metropolitan markets throughout the United States. Eventually, the network was also picked up by some cable and satellite providers. While America's Store closely mirrored HSN's programming strategy and schedule format, it functioned primarily as an outlet for distressed and discontinued HSN merchandise in various categories. Occasionally however, new merchandise would be showcased concurrently on both channels at varying schedules. Like its sister network, America's Store also had a full service internet website that shared most of its functionality with the HSN parent site. In April, 2007, America's Store ceased operating permanently. Most of the America's Store hosts (some of which were already splitting hosting duties between networks) were absorbed into the HSN programming schedule.
In 1998, Home Shopping Network launched its Spanish version Home Shopping en Español on Univision's cable network Galavision. In 2000, the Spanish version re-branded itself as HSE and tapped into low-power stations in the US and Puerto Rico. It also ceased to braodcast through Galavision. In June 2002, HSE ceased to operate.
The iBuy shopping channel closed in May 2007, when 85 jobs were lost. The reasons for the channel's closure were cited to be connected to financial difficulties at the channel, due to their failure to successfully break into a market already dominated by shopping channels such as QVC, sit-up Ltd, Ideal World and Gems TV. It was suggested that there were a growing number of customer complaints over products, and controversy over the channel allegedly selling fake products, in particular Tiffany jewellery.
On 18 March 2007, iBuy Senior Presenter Adam Freeman, revealed while on air, that it was to be his final shift. It was also revealed, that unlike many of the other staff at iBuy, he wasn't to be out of a job. As like the previous iBuy Head of Broadcasting, Andy Sheldon, Freeman will in fact be moving over to HSN for employment in the USA.
On 27 March 2007, it was officially announced on the iBuy website that the channel has now ceased live broadcasting. In its slots, iBuy will be offering a variety of programming over the coming weeks, which include pre-recorded iBuy Unique, and Rye by Post Collectibles.
As the size of HSN's call center kept increasing, it decided to create a new IVR platform that could handle more load. As nothing available on the open market could handle the volume HSN required, the PSi subsidiary started work on a customer platform called the TSP. This platform was installed in HSN's new facility and could handle a large number of T1 lines (each T1 is 24 separate callers). This system originally communicated through a Stratus computer (acting as a poll/select terminal gateway) to the mainframe, but this was later changed to a direct TCP/IP connection. This system was dubbed Tootie II internally.