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America's Got Cable: HGTV vs. HSN

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Welcome to another ego-bruising week America's Got Cable: The Search for the Nation's Finest Basic Cable Channel!

OLD BUSINESS: Get out of our collective rooms, Mom! Congratulations to...


Yeah. Duh-town. Nickelodeon's great. So are these commenters:

GreendaleAlum: "Nickelodeon. Hey Arnold, Ahhh! Real Monsters, Doug, Rugrats, Rocko's Modern Life, etc. It's a shame kids today won't get to experience quality cartoons like these."

pcsjunior002: "TV Land. I like their shows better, plus, they're filling the niche of new cable shows for the old. Someone has to do it, and they're the ones to do so."

sleepingarmy: "Nickelodeon, no contest! TVLand usually just gives me the creeps."

NEW BUSINESS: Hey let's all buy houses and then fill them with crap!


Background: 1994 marked an explosion in basic cable channels, particularly ones with singular purposes. "Home, Lawn, and Gardening Channel,"—a channel that sounded like it had fringe interest at best—eventually became one of today's biggest networks. HGTV essentially pioneered an entire industry, one in which people suddenly took active interest and involvement in the fundamental design of their own homes. Programming originally consisted of instructional how-tos, but now boasts an array of formats and genres, including house-hunting series, reality competitions, and especially makeover shows.

Original Programming: Through the years HGTV has produced dozens (hundreds?) of original series, including many co-productions with HGTV Canada. The current lineup includes Color Splash, Curb Appeal, HGTV'd, HGTV Design Star, Holmes on Homes, House Hunters, Income Property, My First Place, Property Virgins, and Selling New York (plus its upcoming LA-based spinoff). Like Food Network, HGTV's on-air personalities frequently cross-pollinate and show up all over the network's lineup. These folks include Mike Holmes, David Bromstad, Candice Olson, Tanika Ray, Sandra Rinomato, Scott McGillivray, and Trading Spaces alumni Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip.

Reruns: HGTV is another one of those lucky channels that relies completely on its own vast archives to fill out its schedule.

Why It's The Best: If you own a home, HGTV is a super helpful resource; if you don't own a home, HGTV is the best way to live vicariously through people who do. Homes must be awesome to have!

Why It's The Worst: Homes must be awesome to have [kicks pebble].


Background: The inclusion of HSN in this humble little tournament may SEEM like a joke, but HSN's monstrous financial success (and viewership) certainly isn't. And although HSN has fallen to second place behind QVC, I chose HSN for its status as the original home shopping cable network, a format that's done more to monetize the airwaves than any of those pesky middlemen we call "TV shows." HSN's origins are capitalist legend: In 1977 a Florida radio station was paid in can openers when an advertiser couldn't come up with the proper payment. When the station's enterprising manager enlisted his main DJ to sell the can openers over the air, they quickly sold out and the station decided to keep selling other items. Fast-forward to the present day and the Home Shopping Network is a 24-hour, live TV station that rakes in billions of dollars every year thanks to the constant-yet-skillful yammering of its many charismatic hosts and—more importantly—the sedentary, addictive tendencies of its predominantly female audience.

Original Programming: One of the more hilarious aspects of HSN is that it pretends to have shows when really it's just a nonstop cavalcade of sales. Sometimes it's an hour devoted to jewelry, other times it's cookware, or maybe it's a celebrity's vanity fashion line, but the only consistent through-lines are the on-air hosts who breathlessly enthuse about garbage for hours at a time. It all looks so exhausting!

Reruns: A 24-hour live stream doesn't have much use for reruns, apparently!

Why It's The Best: Depending on your sense of humor or sobriety or tolerance for surreal viewing experiences, HSN (and QVC) can be pretty captivating. I mean, come on:

(via Rich at FourFour)

Why It's The Worst: I can't explain why HSN is the worst. Science just isn't there yet.

Official Verdict: I'm really afraid what watching so much Home Shopping Network says about me. I'll just go with HGTV so that nobody starts worrying.

But now it's your turn! Vote below, then COMMENT and tell us your verdict: HGTV or HSN? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?

Note: Because we started with an odd number of channels, we gave some of the bigger channels a first-round bye.

Want to catch up on past battles? Head over to the America's Got Cable archives.

Follow writer Price Peterson on Twitter: @pricepeterson

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