November 8, 2007, 12:00 AM

ShopNBC dials up TV-web connection with new .tv site

ShopNBC is about to upgrade its ShopNBC.tv site as it moves to become a leader in video commerce and attract web shoppers who might not tune into a home shopping TV show.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

ShopNBC launched its video commerce site, ShopNBC.tv, earlier this year and is planning a major upgrade this month that will let viewers choose to watch shows by category, host and brand. It’s part of the company’s vision of becoming a leader in video commerce and attracting web shoppers who might not tune into a home shopping TV show.

“We’re setting the stage for the next generation of home shopping via the Internet,” says Geoff Smith, vice president of Internet. “Traditional TV is very linear: you can only buy what we’re showing now on the air. When we move video and home shopping presentations to the web we can let customers choose what they want to do.”

The current ShopNBC.tv site shows streaming video of the show that’s on the air with a button to click to buy the item being presented. The content for the upgraded site is being created by tagging each TV show with such data as the kind of product presented, the host’s name, product brand and price point. That way someone interested in jewelry can watch only shows that display jewelry, and someone enamored of ShopNBC host Kerry McNally can watch his shows one after another.

The new web site will help ShopNBC hold on to viewers who drop off when the televised home shopping show makes a “hard turn” from, for instance, jewelry to flat-screen TVs, losing many female viewers in the process. Hoping to hold on to those viewers, the company recently has tested shows that appear only on the web. For instance, at the end of a show on watches, the host will say, “If you want to see more watches, come to ShopNBC.tv and see another 30 minutes of watches with me,” Smith says. Customers who watch those unique webcasts buy at a rate of 4-5%, Smith says, almost twice the usual conversion rate for the site.

ShopNBC also plans to launch a new niche site toward the end of the month focused solely on watches, one of its strongest categories. The site, watchorbit.com, will target watch collectors and is part of an effort to reach online shoppers who may not watch home shopping shows on TV. The site will be marketed via online ads and affiliate sites, Smith says.

“We’ve got this opportunity to become a multi-segmented kind of Internet retailer,” Smith says. “While ShopNBC will be our core business, we’re moving into video commerce with ShopNBC.tv and into niche sites, mainly through watches and jewelry.” He says a second niche site is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2008.

ShopNBC.com features a link that takes visitors to ShopNBC.tv, and the .tv site has a prominent link to ShopNBC.com. Smith says the average visitor to the .tv site spends almost 20% more than the average on the .com site, and that time spent on the .tv site now averages almost 20 minutes. Another reason why the web offers big opportunities to ShopNBC: while its home shopping shows only go into 67 million U.S. homes today via cable and satellite TV systems, another 40 million homes with broadband Internet connections can watch those shows via the web, Smith says.

ShopNBC.com, which is No. 64 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is owned by ValueVision Media Inc. of Eden Prairie, MN, which in turn is 27% owned by NBC Universal.

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