Shopping Channel to launch in Australia

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Alistair Duff says screening across the Tasman will open up a much bigger audience for The Shopping Channel. Photo/ Kellie Blizard
Alistair Duff says screening across the Tasman will open up a much bigger audience for The Shopping Channel. Photo/ Kellie Blizard

It may still be only establishing itself on home turf but The Shopping Channel has already struck a deal to move into Australia, says boss Alistair Duff.

New Zealand's first 24-hour shopping channel went live on October 1 last year and has since been the subject of much speculation.

Early cuts to the number of live filming days and talk of presenters' contracts not being renewed raised questions about whether the channel would survive.

But chief executive Alistair Duff said The Shopping Channel would soon start screening on Australian channel TV4ME, with a possible launch date in March.

It will screen on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in 30-minute segments, made up of six five-minute slots.

"These are the big changes we've been planning for a while," he said.

"They were always in the pipeline. We were working pre-Christmas knowing this was the end game."

The news comes after the channel reported December sales up 30 per cent from November.

Last month, it started screening on TV3 in hourly-long segments every weekday and that had opened up a much bigger client base, Duff said.

"We're really happy with how the first couple of weeks have gone. It's still early days on TV3 but if we continue to sell at this level things will be really positive for us.

"TV3 has driven a big audience to us."

Launching The Shopping Channel in New Zealand was always going to be a challenging project because it was a new concept to kiwis, he said.

"But now we're coming up to five months on air and we've learnt a lot in that time. You start to see trends like which products are going well.

"A lot of the decisions can only be made by being on air. People were writing us off but we just needed time."

The channel could now take those lessons into Australia and access a much bigger audience which was familiar with shopping on TV.

"We're going into a market that's established. Home shopping is not new there. It's not a while new concept," Duff said.

Perry Smith - head of Brand New Media, which owns TV4ME - confirmed he was working with The Shopping Channel to deliver a time slot for New Zealand products and services to be promoted there.

"We've got a large consumer market so there's some great kiwi products which should be marketed here and sold on The Shopping Channel platform."

The Shopping Channel's slot on TV4ME would be run in a similar format to how it is on TV3 in New Zealand, Smith said.

Duff said getting in front of an Australian audience could have big benefits for kiwi clients.

"It provides a way for both small and big New Zealand businesses to market their products to Australian consumers," he said.

"There are also Australian clients that want to come into New Zealand."

Duff said he was busy putting together "the right clients" for Australia but said there was no time-pressure to launch there.

He said the channel will be able to charge clients more for time on air in Australia. Where the rate here on TV3 is $750 per four-minute segment, the rate in Australia will be $1500 per five-minutes, he said.

TV4ME is a datacasting channel which was launched by Prime Media and Brand New Media in 2011 and shows mainly local-made informational programs and infomercials.

Datacasting, shortened from 'data broadcasting', is the broadcasting of data over a wide area via radio waves.

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