After a three-year hiatus, HSN is putting a second TV network back on the air.
Called HSN2, the new version will cost only a fraction as much to air and be composed mostly of re-purposed, taped footage of shows and products that already appeared on the main feed.
HSN2 will debut in 14 million homes on Dish Network Aug. 1, but HSN is negotiating with cable operators for broader coverage. Unlike the main network, it will be in digital standard definition rather than HD.
It's all part of the St. Petersburg e-commerce company's efforts to wring more sales from recorded programing that now also can be accessed online or through most brands of wireless smart phones equipped to handle transactions.
An advantage over the live network feed is that products can be grouped to be sold by category rather than limited to celebrity or product experts who can pitch only their own brands on live programs.
Rather than seeing only a Wolfgang Puck cookware show, the second network could package Puck with its other cookware lines from Todd English and Emeril Lagasse.
"What works will evolve," said John McDevitt, HSN Inc. vice president of advanced services. "But one audience could be customers who miss our live programs because they are doing something else. Another audience could be sent there from the (main feed) to see a more in-depth selection than what we're showing live" on the main network.
Second networks have not been fertile ground for TV shopping networks. QVC pulled the plug on its Q2 in the 1990s. Both were live around the clock.
HSN held on until throwing in the towel in 2007 on its second live broadcast network after 18 years of stagnant sales. Network officials tried different names from Spree to America's Store. They tested offering budget priced goods and clearance items. They even spent millions to double the number of homes that got the signal.
But despite being seen in a third of the 89 million homes that could tune in HSN at the time, sales did not budge from 5 percent of the overall business.
While HSN supported the failed second live network with a staff of about 60, the new version will need only a handful of production technicians to splice together programs. That's because the merchandise and backstage logistical support will be the same.