1988: Cable TV becomes home shopping sensation

Posted at 5:25 AM, Mar 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-23 11:09:10-04

INDIANAPOLIS — If a new shopping trend emerged between 1969 and 1994, you could all but guarantee WRTV consumer reporter Barbara Boyd was on the case.

Thirty five years ago, Boyd aired a report on the new trend of shopping from home. Since this was well before the internet infiltrated Indiana homes, Hoosiers relied on their television and a good old landline to buy from shopping networks.

According to Boyd’s report, not only could at-home shoppers buy products from the comfort of a couch, they could also play games, chat with hosts, and participate in ticket drawings.

But it wasn’t all fun and games, according to the Better Business Bureau.

A Better Business Bureau representative said, “One of the biggest things is the claim being made by the advertisers that compared with regular retail or a suggested manufacturer's price that you’re really getting a bargain, in many cases the items were not available to do a comparison.”

According to Boyd, home shopping programs reached 17-million homes yearly and netted $2 billion in sales in 1987.

The report featured a host from the Cable Value Network who was selling a product called SwissSpa, a skin revitalization system she claimed to use “religiously.”

Boyd noted that not all consumers would feel comfortable buying something without being able to touch and feel the product.