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John Malone. Photo by Bloomberg.

Live Shopping’s Pioneer Left for Dead

Photo: John Malone. Photo by Bloomberg.

Every now and then, you have to feel a little sorry for the folks in old media, trundling along, doing their thing and not getting any attention for it. Take Home Shopping Network and QVC, two decades-old TV shopping channels that still produce billions of dollars a year in revenue. They’re the pioneers of the business that a new breed of tech players is trying to get into, including Twitter—it has a live shopping event scheduled for Sunday with Walmart—and a flood of startups, as my colleague Kaya Yurieff has written about in our Creator Economy newsletter. 

And yet, even as those startups draw lots of investor dollars, HSN and QVC appear to have been left for dead. You can understand: They’re both part of a parent company that is burdened with some deadweights. One is its horrible name—Qurate Retail Group—and the other is that it’s part of cable mogul John Malone’s nightmarishly complicated corporate empire. Then there’s the long association of the shopping channels with cable TV, a sector in decline. It’s not surprising that the company’s stock has dropped so far down the toilet you’d need a plunger to retrieve it. Right now, Qurate’s enterprise value is below one times its 2020 revenue, making it a bargain of the sort that is often sold on QVC.

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