FiOS TV Adds HSN Shopping Widget

Verizon Communications is the latest operator to let subscribers shop from their couches, with the launch this week of the HSN Shop By Remote widget for FiOS TV.

On Wednesday, Comcast said it has launched the HSN Shop by Remote service to 8 million subscribers. HSN also offers interactive-shopping services with Dish Network and Time Warner Cable's Oceanic division.

The HSN widget on FiOS TV lets subscribers order the current on-air item as well as the last 15 products featured on the shopping network. Also available are a daily special and the "Verizon FiOS Deal of the Day" exclusively available to the telco's TV customers. The HSN Shop by Remote app for Comcast, by contrast, lets viewers purchase only the product currently featured on-air.

Verizon will make the HSN Shop By Remote widget available starting Thursday in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Texas; it will be live in all other FiOS TV markets by Dec. 7. As of September, Verizon had 2.7 million FiOS TV subscribers.

Customers must have an HSN online account. To purchase an item, FiOS customers click on the "B" button on the remote and log in using the phone number and ZIP code associated with their HSN online account.
The HSN application on Verizon runs on the telco's own "widget" interactive TV platform, which provides access to third-party developers using the Lua programming language.

"The Verizon widget platform is fairly robust," HSN vice president of advanced services John McDevitt said. "Everything in FiOS is kind of new, so there are no legacy boxes to be concerned about. In a traditional cable plant, you'll have some boxes with limitations on displaying colors and rendering graphics."

Comcast is offering the HSN app based on the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) specification, while TWC Oceanic is using ActiveVideo Network's video-on-demand-based ITV platform.

"It would be easier if we only had to maintain one platform, but we understand and respect that different distributors have different needs," McDevitt said.

McDevitt said the HSN Shop by Remote applications do not let viewers order personalized products or those bought through a continuity program (which deliver products every month). For those transactions, subscribers are directed to the HSN Web site or customer-service phone number.