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Shopping on HSN Gets Remote

HSN viewers can now buy that Gucci handbag with just a couple of clicks of a remote control.

The Florida-based shopping channel is hoping to attract new users and drive revenue by allowing Cablevision Systems and Time Warner Cable subscribers in Hawaii to order plasma TVs, jewelry and treadmills with the TV buttons in their hands.

“We see this as a natural evolution in television shopping,” said Scott Sanborn, vice president of marketing for the 89 million-subscriber service.

Sanborn would only say that the network has generated “thousands” of remote-control orders since launching a beta-test on Cablevision systems last May. He added that the remote-control feature will appeal to its core female demographic, which has become more techno-savvy over the years.

HSN VP of business development John McDevitt said remote-control ordering is the first of many technological advances the network will launch within the next year. Still to come is a video-on-demand service, mobile-phone and iPod content and satellite-radio distribution.

The remote-control service works with virtually all digital boxes and allows consumers to perform the same ordering functions that are currently done over the phone. The on-screen application will use a series of menus to allow viewers to buy what they see on TV. Order confirmations will appear on the TV following each purchase.

Digital-cable customers with existing HSN accounts can order an item currently on the screen, as well as the two prior items showcased on the channel, according to Sanborn. In addition, consumers could choose to buy HSN’s daily special item.

Customization capabilities will be the same as with phone and online ordering, allowing viewers to select size, color, quantity or other features. “For a standard order, it will take a customer 30 seconds via remote control, versus by phone two minutes,” Sanborn said.

He added that the technology will be rolled out on an operator-by-operator basis, although he would not reveal which operator would be next. The service will be provided at no additional cost to operators.

HSN’s Web site (www.hsn.com) features “Buzzroom,” an area with a simulcast of the service, as well as a chat area where consumers can ask questions about the current on-air product. In addition, the site will feature customer “convenient” content, which will offer consumer instructions on how to assemble a computer desk or shelf.

For more on HSN, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page three of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.