In addition to dishing out news, morning TV chat shows have always been a platform to peddle lifestyle goods. Now HSN is trying similar show-and-tell tactics to soften its selling edge.
Monday, the St. Petersburg shopping network debuted HSN Today, offering fast-paced, how-to home fix-up tips, a before-and-after patio makeover and coaching on how to dub a wedding video onto DVD.
It's not just to build a 6 to 9 a.m. audience for HSN's third-biggest selling part of the day.
"It gets us to the next level by being more engaging, entertaining and informative," said Andy Sheldon, senior vice president for TV and executive creative director, who came last year from HSN's defunct British sibling iBuy. "We're keeping it real."
Offering tips is a new crop of regulars touted as "resident experts." It's a departure for HSN, where experts are often supplied by vendors or come from the TV shopping world. Like several new show hosts, the experts come from cable or reality TV.
Network brass insist it's about talent, not the youth movement, and that they still value their "classic HSN" hosts. But most of the newcomers are younger than 35. And guys with spiked haircuts, clad in jeans and sports coats have not been common on HSN.
Initial reception from HSN loyalists is mixed. On HSN and rival QVC's blogs, many like the new approach. But some older viewers are turned off by the network trying to be young and trendy. A few wonder what happened to Kelly Repassy, co-host of HSN Today's predecessor. After seven years, the network let the former plus-size model's deal lapse.
Mark Albright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or