home shopping

Home Shopping Network

The old Home Shopping Network (HSN) was mostly a 24-hour basic cable shopping network that could be seen seen on cable, satellite, and some terrestrial channels in the United States.

History

Launched by Lowell 'Bud' Paxson and Roy Speer in 1982 as the Home Shopping Club, a local cable channel seen on Vision Cable and Group W Cable in Pinellas County, Florida, and expanded into the first national shopping network three years later on July 1, 1985, HSN (its initials forming its alternate name) pioneered the concept of the viewer shopping for items in the comfort of their own home.

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.

Hosts

Present home shopping hosts on HSN include:

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:

Product Categories

  • Jewelry
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Health & Fitness
  • For Home Decoration
  • Kitchen & Dining
  • Electronics
  • Crafts & Sewing
  • Toys
  • NFL items
  • Collectibles
  • Personalized gifts
  • Outdoors

Operations

HSN runs 24 hours a day, although programming hours vary between each region, based upon the local TV provider.

United States

HSN's U.S. operations are based in St. Petersburg, Florida, which houses its corporate headquarters, studio and broadcasting facilities. Additional call center facilities are located in Roanoke, Virginia. Distribution centers are situated in Roanoke, Piney Flats, Tennessee, and Fontana, California in order to ensure the fastest possible delivery of items.

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.

UK

HSN had a UK sister network called HSE, which has ceased trading. On the 18 April 2005, the falling price auction channel iBuy, was created by the ex-senior management figure of Auction World.tv, Andy Sheldon.

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.

Germany

HSN has a sister network in Europe called HSE24.

Japan

HSN's sister network in Japan is known as The Shop Channel.

Canada

The Shopping Channel was launched in 1987 as Canadian Home Shopping Network (CHSN), HSN's sister network in Canada. In 1999, the station was sold to Rogers Communications and is no longer affiliated with HSN.

Philippines

Home Shopping Network is currently aired via Shop TV (A Solar Entertainment Corporation Shopping TV channel).

Italy

Home Shopping Europe was launched in Italy in 2001 as "Home Shopping Europe", replacing "H.O.T. Italia". In 2003 the frequencies of HSE were sold to Mediaset and the channel was renamed Mediashopping.

Technology

Call Center

HSN National started life with a standard rotary phone system that concentrated calls to the front of the queue. This corresponded to the front row of order takers in the HSN Studio at the Levitz Center (so named as the location was a former Levitz furniture store) in Clearwater. After several months, this system was no longer adequate and HSN entered a phase where a phone system from GTE was used. HSN claimed that the systems' inability to handle the high call volumes resulted in a loss of business. HSN sued GTE for $1.5 Billion. In a counter-libel suit, GTE claimed that HSN had slandered the company. GTE won a $100 Million judgment. Both parties settled out of court. In the interim, HSN found another telephone vendor to handle its call volume. The Rockwell corporation's Galaxy line of switches was used for the current call center (as well as the new locations in St. Petersburg).

Interactive Voice Response

HSN was an early adopter of an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for order entry. This system allowed customers to place orders through the IVR rather than an agent. The original IVR was a product supplied by Precision Software, Incorporated (PSi) of St. Paul, Minnesota. The product made use of an Intel PC chassis and Dialogic boards for call termination. As the system also needed to communicate with the Burroughs mainframe, it used a serial connection to communicate with the online application. While PSi had off-the-shelf components, it required a great deal of customization to create scripts and interface with the order entry system. Interestingly enough, PSi ran up a high amount of hours and this causes HSN to actually purchase PSi rather than pay their bill. Once released, the system was branded TOOTIE (after the infamous horn that show hosts used to help excite the audience).

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.

Computer Systems

The original computer system used for the local Home Shopping Channel was an IBM System/36. Once HSN decided to go national, a new mainframe called the "A Series" from Burroughs (now Unisys) was used. This new system, named the A3, went live on July 1, 1985 and by April 1986, HSN was on an A15j (the largest commercial business processor available at the time). The main order entry system was written in a 4GL code generator called the Logic and Information Network Compiler (LINC)—since renamed EAE by Unisys. Some controversy existed around the role of the original IBM code's use in the development of the new system. As Pioneer Data Systems provides the software for the HSN local (IBM) operation, the code was licensed to run the national (Burroughs) version. The problem is these systems were not compatible. An IRS court ruled that the code was inspirational to the new system and thus the license agreement was valid for taxation purposes.

Competitors

References

See also

External links

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