Following HSN, home shopping network QVC plans to roll out a t-commerce application in Comcast homes by early next year, allowing a viewer to order a product with a few clicks of the remote.
Ensequence, the interactive TV company that developed a version of HSN's Shop by Remote in 2008, will help launch the system. Also in 2008, Ensequence worked with QVC to launch a t-commerce application for a beauty channel in the U.K.
As QVC debuts its system in Comcast homes, it is counting on benefits, such as increased sales from an easy-to-use function and cost savings, since viewers won't need to make phone calls to order.
"You can make the purchase quicker, so typically what you find is people make more purchases, and they buy more frequently," said Jeff Siegel, vice president of sales at Ensequence.
When QVC's iTV opportunity launches, it will come about a year after HSN began a nationwide rollout of its Shop by Remote function in Comcast homes. The competitors' systems will be propelled by the emerging Enhanced Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) technology, which can speed wide deployment.
HSN's Shop By Remote was already in 15 million homes when Ensequence came on board and developed an EBIF-based version in 2008.
Only Comcast homes with EBIF-enabled set-top boxes will be able to offer QVC's shop-by-remote. The figure is currently estimated to be in the 12 million range. Part of Liberty Media, QVC is in about 98 million U.S. homes.
ShopNBC, a third home-shopping network, does not offer a remote-control-shopping application. Some research shows people are increasingly watching TV with mobile devices in their palms. And ShopNBC is focusing on an application that allows people to order with a smartphone while watching TV.
"It's more intuitive and user-friendly, thus delivering a better user experience," ShopNBC marketing executive Anthony Giombetti wrote in an email.
Interested users of the QVC application will need to register at QVC.com, where they enter credit-card information and receive a password. After that, each time a prompt appears on-screen inspiring them, they can click, enter the passcode and execute a purchase. During the buying process, several other products are marketed, which could lead to additional purchases.
Ensequence's Siegel said QVC beginning with Comcast was somewhat natural, since the cable operator is known to be a pacesetter in deploying EBIF. But the 24-year-old network will look for partnerships with other operators.
"This is a solution they're aggressively pursuing across multiple operators because it's going to make the operator more money, and it's good for the customer," he said.
QVC typically pays operators a commission of about 5% per purchase.
Last month, QVC CEO Mike George was bullish on the potential of the iPad to drive sales, and that could apply to the remote-control offering. He said the Apple device might "invite new kinds of customers who couldn't get past the old stereotypes of home shopping."
Earlier this year, Ensequence powered an iTV offering during NBC Universal's Olympics broadcasts carried on Verizon FiOS and Dish Network. Viewers could receive real-time information, such as medal counts and biographical details about athletes as the action continued.
Ensequence has also worked with DirecTV and ESPN, where Siegel is a former executive.