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All Infomercials, All the Time

The Sharper Image’s Ionic Breeze, Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer and other infomercial staples could get their own dedicated channel this summer, as several former cable executives collaborate on a new, longform digital-basic and on-demand service geared to product marketing.

New York-based Expo TV will be the first cable network to help consumers sort through the myriad branded, longform marketing shows that mostly air during overnight or morning hours, executives said.

Former Oxygen Media executive and company CEO Daphne Kwon said the privately owned network has the support of several top cable veterans, including former Court TV president Dick Beahrs, ex-Time Warner Inc. co-CEO Nick Nicholas and former Home Box Office president Thayer Bigelow.


Kwon said the linear service, which could be positioned on digital basic or a digital tier, won’t charge operators a license fee. Instead, the channel will give its affiliates opportunities to share in revenue generated from the airtime fees it will charge to infomercial companies, she said.

In some cases Expo TV and operators could receive a cut of the revenues generated through infomercial product sales, according to Kwon.

TVN Entertainment Inc. will offer the video feeds to operators as part of a carriage deal between the two companies.

In addition, the network will offer an on-demand package that will allow viewers to access infomercials by product category, like fitness or home improvement, as well as the network’s hottest sellers. The VOD service currently runs on Insight Communications Co. systems serving more than 400,000 VOD-enabled homes.

“The popularity of usage of on-demand programming continues to grow, and we were pleased to expand our service with Expo’s unique offering,” said Insight senior vice president of marketing and programming Pamela Euler Halling.

Looking to serve as a one-stop shop, the linear network will not only air many of the thousands of infomercials currently available to television, but Kwon said Expo TV will also feature product experts and VJs who’ll discuss various products and how-to-buy options.

The channel will also develop original series highlighting various categories.

“Before, the only place consumers could go to get information about a product was the Internet,” Kwon said. “Today’s consumers are hungry for product research and Expo finally provides a place for them to go on TV.”

The network is still finalizing its schedule, but Kwon said daytime hours will feature more traditional direct marketing categories such as fitness and beauty. Kwon said Expo TV employs a screening process for marketing companies to weed out illegitimate or fly-by-night operations.

“The power of direct marketing has unleashed a multibillion-dollar infomercial business, despite having been built in an overnight jungle where viewers are essentially left to fend for themselves,” Kwon said. “We’ve created a legitimate place for quality marketers to connect with the viewers who want to watch and learn from them.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.