July 2, 2012, 10:33 AM

Couch potatoes rejoice

PayPal says buying via TV remote is on its way.

Lead Photo

First shoppers grew accustomed to buying on their computers. Then came buying via their smartphones and tablets. Is TV next? It will be if PayPal Inc. has its way.

The payments arm of eBay Inc. is rolling out technology that will let shoppers make purchases or donations related to content they see during TV programs. It is calling transactions made through TV sets "t-commerce."

"There's been a lot of talk about interactive 't-commerce' for a long time, but all signs point to an industry that's finally on the verge of taking a real foothold in consumers' lives," wrote Scott Dunlap, PayPal's vice president of emerging opportunities, in a blog post.

A PayPal survey from October showed that 49% of TV subscribers want to buy goods and services associated with the shows they watch on television; those consumers want to make purchases either directly from their TVs or via smartphones and tablet computers. Dunlap adds that 30% of respondents indicate they would use PayPal to make those purchases. That's 30% of a large number of couch potatoes: consumer analytics company Nielsen Co. says U.S. consumers on average watch about 35 hours of TV per week, or some five hours per day.

Such apparent consumer interest led PayPal to strike a deal with cable TV services provider Comcast Corp. that eventually will result in consumers making purchases or donations while using their remote controls or their mobile devices. "We are also exploring opportunities for enabling consumers to accept coupons directly into their PayPal online wallet during television advertisements," Dunlap says.

PayPal also is working with TiVo Inc.—whose technology enables consumers to save programs for later viewing—to let advertisers turn their commercials into shopping opportunities. "For example, a consumer sees a commercial with a TiVo interactive tag indicating the ability to 'buy now' using PayPal," Dunlap says. "The consumer can pause the live or recorded show, complete the transaction using PayPal, and return to watch the program without missing anything, all with a few clicks of their TiVo remote."

Dunlap did not offer a timetable for rolling out the technology.



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