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Tube Talk: Already time for holiday shopping?

November 10, 2010

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

My sister-in-law just unofficially kicked off the holiday season by suggesting we should start exchanging wish lists now that Christmas trees and sleds have invaded all the stores. I’m not typically a last-minute shopper, but no one will ever accuse me of being the first one to (literally) wrap it all up.

I love giving and receiving handmade gifts, so I’ve already made a couple of things and have plans to make several more items. I also buy plenty of gifts, but never once have I purchased anything—gift or otherwise—from any of the TV shopping channels. Have you?

It actually annoys me that cable and satellite subscribers pay for the “privilege” of having people hawk products 24 hours a day. It seems backwards. Doesn’t it make more sense that the shopping channels should be paying for round-the-clock ad time? Maybe they do.

I have to admit that I don’t know what goes into carriage deals between the channels and cable and satellite companies. It just seems crazy that we pay increasingly hefty fees to our cable and satellite providers to receive X-number of channels when some of those are what I’d call “filler” channels like QVC, HSN and ShopNBC instead of channels that have actual programming.

Obviously, enough people watch shopping channels to keep them in business. Many inventors and manufacturers vie for the chance to promote their products on any of the top shopping channels, knowing sales will enjoy a big boost. Just watch a few minutes worth of product demos and marvel as the number of units sold climbs during that segment. Some products even sell out. It leaves me wondering: Who’s buying all that merchandise?

On a recent episode of Hoarders, there was a woman sitting amid filth and clutter—her only real living space confined to a cramped area between her recliner and the TV—watching a home shopping channel, poised to call in and order more things she’ll never use. Yes, she’s an extreme case.

One of my friends has purchased several nice things from QVC. Not from the TV channel, but from their website. She said they have a great return policy, better than a lot of online merchants. My guess is that a lot of shopping channel viewers probably don’t have Internet access, so I suppose shopping channels can serve a practical purpose.

Some people who watch for entertainment, like wondering how some hosts manage to keep a straight face when demos backfire, or guessing the real age of the overly made-up hosts.

While I can’t see why we need so many shopping channels, I know there are millions of people who enjoy them. So, I have to ask: Do you watch any home-shopping channels? Which ones? Do you ever buy the products they’re selling? This year, will you be doing any of your holiday shopping through a home-shopping channel?

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to tubetalking-paula@yahoo.com.

From the Nov. 10-16, 2010 issue

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