Shopping channel hopes for half a million Kiwi women

By Ben Chapman-Smith, Steven Orsbourn

Maggie Armstrong, the first person to audition for the Shopping Channel last month. The channel, which launches in October, is hoping for 600,000 NZ women viewers a week. Photo / Kellie Blizard
Maggie Armstrong, the first person to audition for the Shopping Channel last month. The channel, which launches in October, is hoping for 600,000 NZ women viewers a week. Photo / Kellie Blizard

The owner of New Zealand's first 24-hour television shopping channel is expecting over half a million Kiwi women to tune in every week.

Ogilvy New Zealand boss Greg Partington said The Shopping Channel, launching in October, could well become the most watched channel on New Zealand screens.

"Our research is telling us that New Zealand women will watch our channel, particularly our prime-time viewing.

"We understand that we will get in excess of 600,000 Kiwi women watching the channel every week, and that's huge."

The new channel will screen on channel 18 on Sky and Freeview, and will also stream live online.

Auditions last month for local presenters saw about 350 Kiwis turn up in Auckland to show off their on-screen personalities by selling a pencil.

Shopping Channel chief executive Alistair Duff said the 350 had been whittled down to about 30 people who auditioned again yesterday. Around a dozen part-time presenters would be chosen.

Full-time presenters already confirmed include Candy Lane, Monty Betham and Mike Puru.

The channel would screen eight hours of live television every day, spilt into blocks according to particular categories. Between 6pm and 7pm, for example, the show would sell food and beverage products.

A key measure of success would obviously be whether the channel sold its products, Partington said.

"We just don't know. Although, we assume that if we make it easy for them to buy - and in most cases we deliver to their home in the next day or the day after - that buying actually happens.

Partington said the most challenging element to setting the channel up was working out why it was needed.

"Once we understood the 'why', then the business started to happen and happen quickly."

Research showed that 69 per cent of New Zealand women were buying offshore over the internet, Partington said.

That could mean up to $1.5 billion was being spent overseas each year, he said.

"The 'why' is that that is not in New Zealand's interests. The Shopping Channel is about what's good for New Zealand."

The channel would provide a market place for Kiwi companies to test new products before taking those product to the world, he said.

"I'm doing this because I think that matters. The Shopping Channel can single-handedly stimulate the NZ economy by stimulating NZ business."

"I want to encourage entrepreneurs and inventors and innovators to be able to design and manufacture and distribute products."

Duff said the channel would generate 80 to 100 jobs straight off, made up by the likes of production crew, presenters and call centre staff.

Between 30 and 50 companies had signed up to the sell products on the channel, and discussions were taking place with about 100 more, Duff said.

"In terms of our revenue, it's been kick-started over the past eight weeks. We're on track," he said.

The next five weeks would be about getting the right products, sold at the right time of day.

Production would initially take place at Prime's studios in Albany before shifting to Sky's Mt Wellington studios after the Olympic Games.

Partington said the venture was definitely not without its risks.

"I do spend quite bit of time in the middle of the night worrying about how we're going to pull this business off."

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