Jordan Live Show Delivers Slam Dunk Sales for HSN

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Michael Jordan-branded merchandise sold briskly on the Home Shopping Network last month when the network interrupted its regular programming to carry the sports star's retirement announcement.

While the network lured 23 viewers who shelled out nearly $5,000 each to get a Michael Jordan jersey painted by artist Jolene Jesse, it also found thousands of other more cost-conscious Jordan fans.

HSN's decision to cut into its traditional line-up in order to carry Jordan's retirement announcement proved anything but risky considering how well the avalanche of Michael Jordan-branded products sold in the following hours The move even won the electronic shopping retailer an additional distinction: It was the only television network to carry Jordan's retirement announcement live.

During the event, HSN, St. Petersburg, FL, offered for sale 20 items in timely honor of the famed basketball player's accomplishments. In characterizing the dollar volume the Jordan juggernaut helped the network realize, Michael Walsh, HSN buyer for sports memorabilia and license products, said, "We are in the range of around $3 million gross. Right now we are not selling anymore items because it has slowed down. But we are planning on doing some more shows in the next month or two - maybe a big show around the Bulls."

Last year, when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run, and then his 70th, HSN raked in close to $4 million on associated and co-branded merchandise - arguably another historical milestone for the network, but one that occurred during a two-week period. The Jordan sales occurred within 12 hours during a five-day period.

HSN plans more sports-related events that would benefit from strong media coverage. Walsh said the network is considering other such marketing coups in the near future including a show featuring the induction of legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He expected Super Bowl-related sales to reach $1 million during the media hype of game day. n

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