July 12, 2012, 11:24 AM

Making reality TV more realistic via digital commerce

A new History channel show will let viewers bid and buy via two web sites.

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Reality TV is becoming a bit more realistic, at least for consumers with an itch to buy what they see on their screens. A new series on the History channel featuring the adventures of antique hunters will enable shoppers to bid on the valuables shown on the program and to buy other items related to the show. It’s the latest move toward so-called television commerce, or, to use the buzzier term, t-commerce.

“Picked Off,” a show that debuted this week on History—a cable and satellite channel that reaches 100 million U.S. households, according to parent company A&E Television Networks—centers around the efforts of antique dealers to find items that will earn high appraisals. The winner receives a $10,000 prize.

During the scheduled six-episode run of the series, viewers can bid on the items via online auction at www.history.com/pickedoff or www.pickedoffauction.com; on-air prompts during the show will remind consumers of the auction. Additionally, consumers who subscribe to Verizon FiOS—a package offered by the telecommunications provider that includes Internet, TV and phone service—can use their remote controls to purchase replicas of collectables shown on the program. Such items include rare arcade games, pinball machines, radios and soda machines dating back to the late 1800’s. A Delivery Agent spokesman says that some 4 million Verizon subscribers will be able to engage in commerce during the show.

“Helping realize the continuing success of this television commerce initiative with more programming and content is a big step,” says Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Delivery Agent Inc., which is providing the commerce technology . “Connecting audiences at home with the rush of capturing forgotten valuables and hidden treasures as they watch from their living room represents a new way of enhancing the viewer experience.”

Delivery Agent sells a tool called TV Wallet. Consumers can register credit and debit cards and PayPal information with the service, and then sign in by entering their phone numbers and PINs to shop with their remote controls. During “Picked Off,” shoppers will use their remotes to click a History icon on the TV screen. A shopping window then appears on the right hand side of the screen.

Last  month, PayPal announced deals with cable provider Comcast Corp. and set-top box maker TiVo Inc. that would allow consumers to buy from TV commercials.

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