By  on February 13, 2009

The stigma is gone.

Once shunned by luxury beauty firms, TV retailers are now highly sought after, having proved their prowess at attracting viewers, telling compelling brand stories and moving a major amount of product in mere minutes. They’ve proven so successful that the question today isn’t whether TV shopping is right for your brand. It’s which of the two major players, namely HSN or QVC, is right for you—and whether they’re willing to take you on.

While there are a handful of others, the electronic shopping airwaves are dominated by the Saint Petersburg, Fla.–based HSN and the West Chester, Pa.–based QVC. Competition between the two is intense.

Both companies’ network signals reach more than 90 million U.S. homes, and each has carefully honed its personality, with QVC as the established, upmarket player, and HSN, the upbeat entertainer combining content and commerce.

HSN came first, making its debut on air in 1977, nine years before QVC got its start. But over the last 23 years, QVC has built itself into the larger, more formidable player with a global reach and revenues of $7 billion, more than two times the size of HSN Inc. Formerly IAC Retailing, HSN Inc. includes the Cornerstone catalogue business. Its TV shopping business accounted for approximately 65 percent of the company’s total revenue in 2007, or $1.89 billion. Health and beauty, not including fitness products, made up 19 percent of HSN’s sales, or about $359.1 million.

Click here to view a by-the-numbers comparison of HSN and QVC >>

QVC, which stands for Quality, Value and Convenience, got a head start in prestige beauty. It started courting department store brands back in the late Nineties and its decadelong quest has paid off handsomely. QVC also has a global reach, with networks in the U.K., Germany and Japan. In 2008, QVC’s global beauty business totaled more than $950 million.

Although the distance between the two is great, HSN is gaining ground. It launched a full-scale offensive to close the gap with QVC, which began with a network overhaul shortly after the arrival of chief executive officer Mindy Grossman in 2006.

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