Open sees Christmas sales surge

Interactive TV service reports big sales after just 10 weeks

Interactive TV service Open silenced its early critics Monday with surprisingly high first-quarter revenue figures. The announcement that its home shopping sales reached up to £1m a week in the run-up to Christmas bodes well not just for the company, but for interactive television in general.

The service, owned by BSkyB (quote: BSY), British Telecommunications (quote: BT), banking group HSBC and electronics maker Matsushita, said has processed 128,000 orders since its launch on 12 October.

Some online retailers such as Toyzone said revenues from the service accounted for up to 40 percent of pre-Christmas sales, while mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse said Open sales were already ahead of one of its flagship stores on Oxford Street in London. Ticket seller First Call said it had racked up sales of £300,000 through Open.

Open also said that 350,000 people have registered for email and 40,000 for TV-based banking with HSBC.

In related news, Open rival Telewest said it had signed up another 15 partners for its own interactive service, to launch this spring. New content providers include Argos, Bloomberg TV, Eagle Star, Emap Online, Woolworths and British Airways.

The interactive service will be part of Telewest's Active Digital television offering. Fourteen other content providers have already signed up with Telewest, including Abbey National and e-tailer

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