QVC Plus Launches Streaming Channel Outdoor Escape for Gardening Season
Home-shopping leader looking to add storytelling to shoppable technology
QVC Plus, the home-shopping TV service’s streaming brand, on Friday is launching Outdoor Escape, a new around-the-clock streaming channel dedicated to gardening and outdoor living.
The seasonal channel will be hosted by popular QVC personality and gardening expert Sandra Bennett, Soumya Sriraman, who joined Qurate Retail Group last year as president of streaming, told Broadcasting+Cable.
Outdoor Escape will feature lifestyle shows from QVC and HSN and give viewers easy access to purchasing products.
Qurate‘s QVC and HSN, the oldest names in shoppable TV, are evolving their approach as streaming creates new ways for viewers to buy what they see on the screen.
While more traditional programmers are embracing shoppable TV technology to create incremental revenue streams, one of Sriraman’s priorities is making programming more human.
"This is a company that has taken to heart storytelling and bringing emotion into commerce is at the core of what it does every single day,” said Sriraman, who was with Britbox and Amazon before joining Qurate.
At the same time, adding distribution via streaming gives QVC more opportunities to reach viewers and viewers more ways to consume programming, interact and make transactions.
The company's QVC and HSN linear channels are available as free ad-supported streaming TV channels (FAST). s QVC Plus and HSN Plus stream on platforms including Roku, Amazon Fire, LG, Xfinity Flx and Samsung Smart TV. It is also looking to create new free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels at a time when consumers are cutting the cord with traditional cable.
Last year, it created a seasonal Christmas in July channel.
“We found that to be hugely successful with our audience,” Sriraman said. “Audiences are responding to this idea of giving them channels they can watch and discover new products and new content as they sit back and watch.”
Gardening has been a mainstay on QVC’s main channel, making the category ripe for a streaming channel. For now, Outdoor Escape is available only on QVC’s app, but another channel, The Big Dish, is in the process of being distributed on more FAST platforms.
The company will see how Outdoor Escape performs. There’s a chance it will keep running past the summer. And the company has more seasonal channels in the pipeline. Some may be based on lifestyle categories, others may be built around the network’s personalities.
More Ways for Viewers to Buy
With streaming, viewers will have more ways to buy, including interacting with QR codes. Some viewers still like to call the channel to make purchases, though, Sriraman said. “We’re not limiting the ways people want to buy.”
On traditional TV, QVC pioneered shop-by-remote technology that the company will be rolling out on its streaming channel.
“The audience’s ability to transact and watch seamlessly is important, so the more opportunity someone has to get access to your channel, the more likely they are to deeper with you,” she said.
Streaming means “we now are not tethered to someone’s cable box,“ Sriraman said. ”You can take us with you wherever you go and you can watch our hosts that we know our audiences love, and you can discover things without having to be live.”
Sriraman is aware that traditional TV is looking for ways to build its commerce business. “It feels like everyone thinking about it as interactive ads,“ she said. ”We’ve always talked about it as interactive programming.”
It would appear likely that given the improvements in connectivity and technology, streaming viewers buy more stuff than TV viewers, but Sriraman said the company was not sharing that data. “We can say we’re super-excited about what we’ve seen since last year, and really excited about how the expansion of distribution on FAST is additive,” she said.
Sriraman is also looking forward to the launch of a new show, Design School with Ballard Designs, which will launch on QVC Plus March 24.
In each 30-minute episode, Ballard Design’s Caroline McDonald will guide viewers through the design process while tackling a challenge sent in by QVC viewers.
Design School will include shoppable entertainment features.
The show is designed to bring Ballard Design, traditionally a catalog brand, to life, Sriraman said.
“We all know that there are many things that are better told with video than in print or just static digital,” she said. "We’re very excited about the show.” ■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.