The protracted death of retail in a traditional sense continues apace, forcing even the bitterest of rivals to merge in an an attempt to combat the true evil: the internet. QVC is buying HSN for over $2 billion, creating one humungous master company in the selling-of-shit-you-don’t-need-but-maybe-want-on-television space.
The Wall Street Journal reports that following the merger, announced Thursday, the two will form an independent company called QVC Group, which will also include Zulily, an e-commerce site whose ads follow me around the internet like a cat that needs feeding, and Ballard Designs, which peddles “European-inspired” designs as well as these beach chairs that would look stunning on my filthy patio.
With their forces combined, the new company will now be the third largest e-commerce site after Walmart and Amazon, respectively. The acquisition was likely driven by a low-grade panic about the continued relevancy of a television channel that allows the viewer to purchase Bare Minerals makeup or whatever it is Heidi Klum is shilling these days. (Those less familiar with the history of the two companies last saw them competing against one another in Joy, the biopic starring Jennifer Lawerence as Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop.)
HSN was founded in 1982 and QVC followed hot on its heels in 1986. While you can catch both channels on an actual television, I highly recommend seeking out their YouTube channels, which are just as engaging as watching the actual programming on television. It’s Gem Day today at QVC; over at HSN, Heidi Daus is hawking some lovely Swarovski crystal bracelets.
Mike George, CEO of QVC’s, response to the merger is basically that very same panic—what does retail look like when no one is buying shit at the stores?—but enclosed in a shiny coating of investor-friendly language: “By creating the leader in discovery-based shopping, we will enhance the customer experience, accelerate innovation, leverage our resources and talents to further strengthen our brands, and redeploy savings for innovation and growth.”