NBC plans shopping show from the Mall of America


The Mall of America has shown it can draw shoppers, but now it faces a tougher test: Can it attract enough viewers to justify a daily, one-hour television show?

NBC will "definitely go ahead" with plans to launch a daytime, hourlong, Monday through Friday home shopping show from the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., Michael Rollens, the producer of the show, confirmed last week.

Details such as how the program will be distributed or when it will be launched will probably not be decided until early next year, Mr. Rollens says. Mr. Rollens is head of NBC Direct, which was created recently by the network to explore retail and shopping ventures.

NBC's nationally televised program would be the first regularly scheduled network program through which viewers can buy goods, according to Kimberly Hendrix, senior manager in the Los Angeles office of Management Horizons, a retail consulting division of Price Waterhouse.

Like cable home shopping programs, the "Mall of America" show is designed to sell merchandise. But the program must also attract viewers, and like any other network television program, the "Mall of America" show will live and die on television ratings, Ms. Hendrix says.

The show is likely to be similar to the "Mall of America" test show which aired from noon to 1 p.m. on June 11. In the test, two hosts and three shopping "experts" toured the mall, demonstrating and displaying goods and services for viewers, who could buy them by calling a toll-free telephone number.

Among the retailers featured on the test program were Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, B. Dalton, Brookstone, The Nature Co., Oshman's SuperSports USA, Williams-Sonoma -- and even Northwest Airlines. Specialty-store merchandise ranged from a $48 "wallet-on-a-strap" to a $100 Brookstone air-bed.

But so far, NBC has not updated those retailers, or even the Mall of America, about its plans. Maureen Hooley, director of marketing at the Mall of America, says "this was the first I've heard" that NBC was going ahead with the program.

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