HSN, EXCITE HOOK UP IN SHOPPING DEAL

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — A big development in broadband shopping is brewing.
Barry Diller’s Home Shopping Network, and Excite@Home, the Internet’s fifth-heaviest-trafficked Web property, on Wednesday disclosed they have formed a strategic partnership to launch this year one of the most ambitious interactive shopping arenas available.
The plan is to develop a co-branded shopping experience to be broadcast both online at Excite.com and on HSN’s cable-TV channel. The new broadband shopping program, powered by iBeam technology, will allow cybershoppers to view live broadcasts of HSN-TV and simultaneously interact with Excite.com via cable, DSL and T-1 hookups, as well as through 56K modems.
A host of interactive capabilities, as well as immediate access to additional information on HSN merchandise, will be offered through the co-branded TV and online programs. Those capabilities will include online interaction with HSN hosts; participation in real-time chats, casting votes during live product polling, registering for contests and simultaneous shopping online with family and friends.
Plans also are in the works to market and promote the broadband shopping experience online and offline.
“We are excited to leverage the content and reach of HSN to offer Excite users a unique broadband shopping experience,” said Richard Gingras, senior vice president and general manager of the Excite Studios unit of Excite@Home, in a statement. “The convergence of the TV audience and broadband will draw Excite users and shoppers in through live interactivity and community-building features, such as chats and polls.”
“This relationship between HSN and Excite@Home represents a significant breakthrough in online shopping,” stated Jack Kirby, president of HSNi, the shopping network’s interactive division. “The delivery of innovative broadband shopping content moves far beyond the typical electronic catalog experience that has become the norm.”
Home Shopping Network, a division of USA Networks Inc., is a pioneer of the electronic retail industry, having launched its cable network in 1977. Its 24-hour programming reaches more than 74 million households, according to the company, which is based in St. Petersburg, Fla. In 1999, HSN launched HSN.com, an e-tail site that integrates content and community with HSN’s TV programming.
Last year, HSN produced sales of $1.2 billion and shipped more than 34 million packages. It currently claims more than five million customers.
“Excite@Home and HSN are positioned to combine our respective strengths and create a premiere interactive broadband shopping experience,” said Mark Bozek, president and chief executive officer of HSN. “We will continue to work to drive significant traffic to HSN.com, acquire customers and remain profitable — all at the same time.”

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