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New Shoppable Media Emerges in Blow to Industry Pioneers QVC and HSN

With consumers increasingly expecting their shoppable media experiences to flow more seamlessly between entertainment and commerce, traditional shopping networks such as HSN and QVC are seeing revenue declines.

Qurate Retail, parent company of QVC, HSN and other brands, reported in its fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 earnings results Wednesday (Feb. 28) that its QxH segment, which is comprised of QVC U.S. and HSN, saw revenue fall by 4% year over year in the three-month period, contributing to the company’s overall revenue decline of 11%. The company highlighted fewer units shipped and higher returns across QxH contributing to this decrease.

“We saw higher returns in the fourth quarter, which are normalizing to pre-pandemic levels across the industry after an extended low period during the pandemic,” Qurate Retail Chief Financial Officer Bill Wafford told analysts on a conference call. “From a category perspective, QxH experienced growth in apparel and jewelry. These gains were offset by a decline mainly in electronics, which accounted for 64% of QxH’s revenue decrease.”

Wafford noted that the plummeting revenue in the category was due in part to “softness across the industry due to lack of innovation” as well as to the company’s decision to focus on higher-margin products.

The shopping networks’ revenue declines come as other kinds of shoppable media begin to gain ground. Social media apps, for instance, have been rolling out commerce-integrated livestreams and other kinds of content. Most recently, Pinterest launched its first shoppable streaming series, Deliciously Entertaining, in partnership with lifestyle media company Tastemade. In September, TikTok announced the rollout of TikTok Shop’s shoppable videos and livestreams nationwide.

Streaming media giants, too, are integrating commerce into their content. In December, it was reported that Disney+ is considering launching shopping options on its streaming service. Plus, Amazon has the Prime Video X-Ray feature, available on select titles, which offers in-movie or in-series shopping.

Retailers are joining the mix as well. Walmart has tried shoppable livestreams, and Shein announced this month that it would launch its spring and summer collection via a shoppable livestream within its app.

With this proliferation of new kinds of shoppable media, where consumers can access this content through their favorite creators or while watching series they would have watched anyway, it makes sense that more traditional shopping networks would have to work harder to keep consumers’ attention.

Many consumers, for their part, want seamlessly integrated shopping experiences in the media they consume, according to the PYMNTS Intelligence report “How We Will Pay Report: How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers,” which drew from a survey of more than 4,600 U.S. consumers.

The study revealed that of the 95% of consumers who own connected devices, one-third would be interested in an internet-connected buying experience wherein, if they are watching a livestreamed series on an iPad or mobile device and they want to purchase an item of clothing or jewelry that they see on an actor, they could touch the screen to navigate to the product page and complete the purchase.

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