ShopNBC Winks at ITV


Thanks to new interactive-television partnerships, home-shopping-channel fans
will no longer need to pick up a telephone to place an order for the coveted
item seen on TV.

ShopNBC -- the 24-hour shopping channel known as ValueVision until this
Friday (June 22) -- announced a deal with Wink Communications Inc. that gives
viewers the option of buying merchandise through their remote control any time
of day or night.

The Wink technology is currently available to more than 3 million homes, the
majority of them DirecTV Inc. subscribers. After Wink customers set up an
electronic wallet that stores their credit-card number, they can make purchases
simply by hitting a few buttons and entering their four-digit
personal-identification number.

'I believe customers will find television commerce so reliable that it will
catch on in a fury,' ShopNBC chief technology officer Kevin Hanson predicted. He
added that once other home shopping channels, including QVC and HSN, participate
in t-commerce on a 24/7 basis, the higher profile will help to stimulate
consumer interest.

Because t-commerce purchases made over DirecTV are currently not handled in
real time, ShopNBC won't make all its items available for purchase through the
remote, Hanson noted. Customers might see messages on screen that urge, 'Limited
quantities -- buy now.'

ShopNBC pays a fee to Wink for each transaction, Hanson said. It's up to Wink
to determine how it shares that cut with its direct-broadcast satellite or cable

The enhanced-broadcast-technologies group at ShopNBC has also produced
interactive content for NBC network shows including The Tonight Show with Jay
and Will & Grace. But unlike on home shopping channels,
merchandise can't take center stage on broadcast entertainment shows.

'You can't interrupt the flow of the show,' Hanson said. 'If you irritate the
consumer, you lose the consumer.'