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Spotlight conversation: Multichannel state of mind

ShopNBC’s Stewart on the synergy of Web and TV

Q: How has the TV shopping industry changed in recent years?

A: The importance of the Web to all businesses has really changed the overall landscape. More than 30% of our business is from that channel, so it’s become very meaningful from a revenue perspective. One example is the impact video has had on the Web and the value it brings to the customer — it improves the stickiness, which is very important online and for viewer­ship as it relates to on-air. It’s made for ShopNBC.com, and we’re clearly the leader in that space. No one can even come close. If you want to stream our programming live online, you can do it, even during your lunch break — 24 hours of live content every day.

Q: How has time-shifting viewership changed the ShopNBC business?

A: [It’s not] being used to drive more e-commerce. The Web is growing on its own. It’s going to get there and it doesn’t need any help from anybody. We have significant strength in our on-air advertising promotion. We have one item at a time and have one individual message to millions of people. You can’t beat that in bricks-and-mortar. But our most significant strength is also our most significant weakness because we don’t have assortments on air. This is where the Web complements that busi­ness strategy. Where you can search for 10 computers on the Web, we enhance the benefits and added value of one product at a time. We want to serve customers in the best way.

Q: How does digital television affect your strategy?

A: Digital television changes the landscape of everything that we do on air in that most of the new customers and viewers we have today came to us through channel surfing. They watch us an average of 50 times before they make their first purchase. That’s not necessarily going to be the case [with digital TV]. It’s not about positioning, it’s about adjacency. Certainly, the cable and satellite operators are going to be booking things into suites. I’ve been told that most want to book us next to our competitors. I argue sternly that that’s a bad thing for their viewers. Our brand is NBC so we should be next to NBC. It has 18 different channels that we have an opportunity to offer content on in the future. We won’t get new viewers by channel surfing, but we have built-in partners with viewership that will help leverage and develop the customer experience.

Q: What is in ShopNBC’s future?

A: We want to broaden our beauty business and fill some product voids that we have. Seasonal, gardening, furniture, toys, textiles — these are all new businesses for us. They’re all incremental revenues for on-air and online. I’m focused on the customer experience. We’re going to be faster, with less expensive shipping and order processing to enhance the experience and our P&L. I’m also going to make sure we leverage our partners’ assets to our advantage.

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