Only for a limited time: Home shopping TV is taking over retail

Media and retail are hurting. A hybrid of the 2 industries is not.

May 15, 2020

Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

No slight to the Bon Appétit test kitchen, but there’s a new sheriff for home cooks: ShopHQ.

In March, the TV network debuted “Learning to Cook with Shaq” to some of its highest ratings in 10 months — and the show has quickly become a centerpiece of a home-shopping golden age.

Qurate Retail, which owns both QVC and HSN, has seen viewership jump 10% since late March. ShopHQ reported similar increases, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Retail is hurting, TV is hurting, but — oddly — the peak-‘90s hybrid of the 2 is doing… surprisingly well.

Everyone wants that sweet, sweet money-back guarantee

The magic of QVC, HSN, and ShopHQ right now is that they sell products, not ads. QVC’s US culinary sales are up 40%, and its US yard and outdoor space listings are bringing in 65% more than last year.

Compared to other TV channels, their viewer gains are small. The Food Network, HGTV, and TLC are seeing bigger ratings jumps, but the flagging ad market is setting them back.

The parent company of those cable stalwarts, Discovery, Inc., lost 20% in ad revenue over the same period.

Meanwhile, live sales shows are kickstarting economies across the world. Chinese companies, for instance, are recruiting farmers to live-stream their produce sales like — who else — a QVC host.Channel Shopping

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