The Future of WOW.tv

March 19, 2013

BASED on a recent thread over at Watchlords, one cannot help but wonder if WoW.tv’s days are numbered. The Ustream infomercial-as-shopping network is no longer being carried on several cable systems, including Time Warner, FiOS or Dish. A look at wowtv’s website reveals that they are only on DirectTV.

WHAT can we attribute this pull back in spending to? Might it be a result of the losses incurred by SWI’s unsuccessful litigation attempting to take the trademark “Swiss Made” away from the
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry?

OR might it be the result of the new owners of SWI, Clearlake Capital Group. There has been some speculation that the sale was necessary because of the fight with the Swiss Federation but with this new infusion of capital (and new board members) it may just be nothing more than a change in direction. It could be possible that the cost to included the programming on the cable networks is far more than the actual returns. Couple that with the salaries of the hosts and you have to wonder how much ROI there is even if it is streamed exclusively via the Internet.

In any event, what once seemed a potential challenge to ShopNBC watch sales now looks to be little more than a vanity, basement Internet show.

Advertisements

HERE’S an interesting development in the world of TV Horology: Swiss Watch International has apparently lost the use of the word Swiss in both the name Swiss Watch International and Swiss Legend.

I stumbled on a legal decision dated January 30th of this year while researching another possible blog topic and started reading through the court records in the case, Swiss Watch International Inc. V. Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, T.T.A.B., No. 92046786, 1/30/12

The decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office was the culmination of an action that began in 2006 when the USPTO did not grant Swiss Watch International trademarks for either their name or house brand, Swiss Legend on the grounds that the “Swiss” would create confusion with the Federation’s marks “Swiss” and “Swiss made”.

SWI then attempted to have the “Swiss” and “Swiss Made” marks cancelled in the US on the grounds that the names had become generic in the US because the Federation did not control their use and so they were no longer entitled to protection.

But the USPTO dismissed this case and ruled that the certification marks are not generic, despite the unauthorized use of these trademarks by other parties. They cited the Federation’s worldwide monitoring and enforcement system as well as the actions they have taken against third parties that have infringed on these trademarks, as well as the American public’s recognition that the certification marks ‘Swiss’ and ‘Swiss Made’ identify the origin of a timepieces manufacture as Swiss.

Swiss Watch International has already registered a new Legend logo and trademark and I couldn’t find anything pertaining to the parent company’s name.

What strikes me is the argument; that the trademarks are “generic” in the US because third parties have used them without penalty. Might this weak argument be a finger pointed at Invicta for such memorable missteps as the Swina Gate Fiasco and the great The Great DD Debacle? There’s no way to tell because the exhibits used to make their case are either redacted or confidential.

As expected, the company currently known as SWI has filed an appeal so it will probably be awhile until we see how this case ends.

FIFTEEN years ago, I really believed that the strides being made in CAD and CAM would result in an on-demand future rapidly prototyped into physical being. A future where designers would be king and a lot of products would be produced and assembled locally leading to a new wave of industrial revolution and infinite customization.

And while on-demand is not as pervasive as i thought it would be, companies like rvndsgn are halfway there. Industrial designer Zach Raven began his project to create the world’s first rapidly prototyped timepiece with the help of a Kickstarter campaign to finance his initial pieces. It has been less than a year since he kicked off his campaign and he is already taking orders.

rvndsgn utilizes Selective Laser Sintering to create their cases; they are literally printed and built layer upon layer. Stainless steel powder is converted into solid cross-sections by a CO2 laser until a solid, three dimensional case is formed. Bronze is infused into the steel to replace the binder used in the printing process. It is nickel free so the finished product is allergy free. Final finishing occurs by tumbling the cases in husks to remove any sharp edges leaving a grain pattern behind that is unique to each piece as a result of the sintering process. It makes for a look that strikes me as organic; almost like the hives built by paper wasps. As a fan of the Japanese Mokume technique and the classic, organic designs of Isamu Noguchi, I find it aesthetically appealing.

The cases are manufactured in The Netherlands and measure a modest 40mm across. In these austere times this is a nice break from the pie plate sized watches that some brands would have you believe are the new normal. Any color finishes are applied over the stainless by the same company that creates the cases.

The dial is created in New York using a similar rapid prototyping method but materials are nylon and acrylic. The movement holder is incorporated into the face creating a single piece design.

Final assembly takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan on a made to order basis. Delivery can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks on US orders.

20120131-213134.jpg

The bands and buckles are sourced from Italy and are a single piece, in form very similar to the G10 style. They pass through the case and could easily be replaced with a 20mm NATO or Zulu.

THE only downside to me is that it has a quartz movement – the Swiss Ronda 513. I prefer automatics. While Mr. Raven doesn’t have plans for an auto, he has assured me that he does have plans for additional styles that could accommodate an automatic movement. This illustrates one of the unique aspects of his method: there is no tooling to change. He just alters the measurements in the CAD file and produces it.

Mr. Raven is also looking to leverage his product toward a greater good:

I’m looking into doing a limited edition with a partnership with a large charity with the profits going to them.

rvndsgn started accepting orders as of last Friday with the exception of the all black and all white pieces. They are priced at $275 and shipping on both domestic and international orders is included in the price.

For more information, check out the rvndsgn website: http://rvndsgn.com/RVNDSGN/Home.html

20120201-200536.jpg

EVEN though Jim Skelton has been reduced to “hosting” a Ustream show, he still feels the need to lash out at Tim Temple. Posted on Watchgeeks was a thread entitled Presentation Skills Advice for All TV Hosts wherein the poster questions the behavior of TV presenters that fawn all over the product as disingenuous.

Moby Dickweed surfaces to add his two cents to the discussion. And what he states is revealing on several levels:

You can ask Michael.. I kiss no one’s butt, and I’ll be brutally honest about the products that I am asked to sell. If I lose the inter-office battle to air an item (again.. I no longer have to battle about this these days), I have been known to even go as far as to mock the product on the show. Of course that is an EXTREME case (remember the faux chrono?? Remember when they tried to slip one single Stauer into my show???).

Skelton seems to be stating that he was trying to exercise more control over what product aired. This was reportedly the same mistake that Temple supposedly made which ultimately led to his dismissal. This would seemingly contradict Skelton’s initial statements that the breakup was mutual – something that anyone with a brain in their head knows was not true. But one has to wonder if his behavior on WG and taking of fights to the SNBC airwaves; his alleged misuse of personal information and his other on air antics and statements didn’t lea to his demise. Maybe it all came down to arguing over product.

His next statement of “have(ing) been known to even go as far as to mock the product on the show” probably didn’t put him in the good graces of management. It also seems to suggest that if he was bold enough to “mock the product” that when news of Temple’s return to SNBC became public that his erratic behavior that I detailed and was attacked for was surely his “mocking” of the network brass.

I am also surprised that Michael Davis would allow Skelton to dismiss Stauer considering Invicta shares airtime with the brand. It’s funny, I don’t disagree that Stauer is a real stretch, yet Skelton ignoring the fact that he was there to sell seem to be what got him tossed out. Temple gets it and that’s why he has his job back.

And it’s why Skelton is on Ustream.

AFTER much talk of “changing the game” and a big countdown on his Public Figure Facebook page, Jim Skelton made the announcement that Betterskills had speculated on months ago; that he would join Lior’s fledgling World of Watches TV that is streamed live on Ustream and on the satillite infomercial channel. Jim will be sharing Ustream bandwidth with such esteemed internet shows as Two Bored Guys, Chanchaka Charmy and Alison Rosen is Your Best Friend.

This move isn’t much different than the Stickam Couch Tour that I suggested he take.

WoW – how far the “mighty” have fallen. It will be interesting to see if Skelton continues his behavior that seemed to put him into a bad light with ShopNBC brass and ultimately lead to his dismissal at the number three net. Will he take on forum owners and this blog as he has done in the past? Will he troll forums?

Or has he learned his lesson?

WITH today’s announcement of Renato spinning off their own forum, renatogeeks; and internet TV show, can we expect the world of TV Horology to collapse under it’s diversified weight?

ShopNBC used to be the defacto place to buy brands whose retail presence was secondary to their late night cable appearances on ShopNBC. Fans regularly phish for new products, gaining bragging rights on the WG town square. Filling the huge, empty hole in their souls with easy Value Pays and products selling for a 10th of the retail value.

Watchgeeks.net was spun up by a green ShopNBC host who used it to aggregate all of those dispirit fans who routinely got into pissing contests on other forums defending the Invicta brand – this was a fruitopia for those collectors and addicts; both vain and broken.

This model worked well for awhile, like Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. But then Invicta, who appears to have financed the site for many years, was no longer the king. Invicta quality started to wain and they began replacing the stuff that made them a value and viable brand – using coated mineral crystals and replacing stainless with polymers. Lior of SWI got into the game around this time. Where once he pushed brands that he actually owned the licensing agreement for, like Triumph and Jacques Lemans, he wanted to compete head to head with Invicta and so introduced Swiss Legend. These were “Swiss Movement” watches and Laylo loved to point out that all of his “Swiss” watches were the best value – because they were made in Switzerland. This occurred as better quality Chinese made brands were introduced (Android) and Invicta was beset by one scandal after another; caught lying about materials and having to admit that “Swiss” was actual Chinese.

The one commonality with all the TV brands is that they own no factories. They are a brand with designers who outsource it’s manufacture to the lowest bidder. I’ve seen TV Watch brand fans laugh off Fossil. But brands like Invicta are not even in Fossils league. The company actually takes a lead in quality and works with the suppliers at the manufacturing level to ensure the highest possible quality standards. Go to your local TJ Maxx and compare the two sometime.

WHEN James “No Cut Contract” Skelton replaced Tim Temple, he brought an entirely new demographic to the world of Horology. The Coors Lite; riding motorcycles in shorts and flip flops crowd people who smoked cigars and left the rings on; that drank Chardonnay from a box while wearing shirts with the top 4 buttons undone. These were not watch idiot savants – they was plain fucking idiots.

I’VE suspected that WOW.TV was a reaction to the Invicta Swinese scandal. They had been at a competitive disadvantage with Invicta who was claiming to offer supposed Swiss made watches at the same or lower prices. Always subjected to the Invicta crew of Davis, Lalo, Jill and even Skelton implying that consumers were getting Swiss made. Having handled both Swiss Legend and Invicta, the quality is slightly higher in more of the SWI examples. Surely Lior had handled the competition and realized he was surpassing Invicta but always second fiddle.

By the looks of it, WOW is a success and they are pushing Invicta product as well; sometimes the same product as Shop but far cheaper. Their customer service is legendary and far surpasses the complaints with SNBC and invicta’s CS blackhole.

AFTER the Michael Davis sticky on watchgeeks throwing Daniel Mink under the bus followed a day later with a Mink email blast announcing the planned termination of the WG/Renato relationship and launch of Renatogeeks.com and RenatoTV, two of the five major TV brands are now representing themselves with a major web presence and streaming internet tv shows. Are the remaining few far behind? How will ShopNBC and Invicta fair? Where once it looked as if ShopNBC was becoming THE Invicta channel, they have started to introduce SkyMalls favorite brand, Stauer, as well as a higher profile for Android.

Another competitive factor is Jim Skelton and where he’ll end up in September. Could Android be the next to go solo with Jim at the sales helm pushing Wing’s dreams to the fiends? Or is he headed to JTV as some are claiming and what will that do for the trailer park network and how it competes with ShopNBC?

AFTER weeks of silence and a noticeable decline of fanbois and girls on his public Facebook page, Jim Skelton is again interacting with the public at said page. While only an anecdotal observation, It seems that as his absence from cable has dragged on, he began receiving less adoration and responses to wall posts. His continual thanking of people for their support also suggests that he had no call in the decision to leave the number three network. As were the tone of the calls when he was a host, every post on his public page seems to follow the same narrative – you got me into collecting; “I know longer” purchase watches from ShopNBC; that British guy sucks; Tim Temple sucks; when are you going somewhere to sell me watches…

He’s also taking swipes at his former employer;

“Yeah, they’ve been KILLING prices and maxing out Value Pays lately… wonder why huh? LOL”

As well as at fellow hosts:

“At the least, with Daniel you don’t ever have to endure “Ummm”, “Uhhhh” every 3rd word because he is a true professional in front of the camera. Can’t say that for everyone though…” Clearly this is in reference to Tim Temple who’s “uhhh” and “ummm” are his signature presentation style.

“I do not watch the shows. The RARE occasion I do, I will only watch Daniel or Shawn.” This is funny because he accused Wilsey of grandstanding when he publicly left Watchgeeks – guess he hates Tim “Replaced me” Temple that much more.

“I honestly think Mike (and select other vendor guests) are the only life & personality left on the watch shows.”

As this blog previously reported, the word was that Jim Skelton was very uncool to Tim Temple when they had run in’s after the later was replaced by ShopNBC. Stories have also been floating around that Skelton tried to undermine Temple when he was brought back – again, these are unsubstantiated but Skelton’s past behavior on TV and even this blog suggests an unsavory personality.

THE big question is, where will Skelton end up? He’ll definitely generate sales as there are people waiting for him to tell them what to buy. Will it be JTV? He’d fit in well with the white trash hosts on that network. Will he end up at WOW? That’s starting to seem unlikely. WOW is blowing it out with Charla and I doubt his salary would be worth the slight increase in sales. I used to think that we’d see Invicta TV with Skelton as the host, but after telling Jill Sommerstein she should have twins and name one Holocaust, leaving her visibly upset, that is not going to happen either.

He’s hinting that something is going to happen. Maybe it will be live on Stickam from the couches of those still “caught up in his allure”

One things for sure, it’s funny how it’s come full circle and Temple has replaced an apparently fired Skelton and it makes this Michael “Fuckin” Davis post from December of 2008 even funnier:

Considering how and under what circumstances Tim left SNBC “back in the day”, I doubt that would be the last place he would show up. While he may be liked there by some of the old timers, I am willing to bet that there is still enough management around to remember how he left to go start up a direct competitor and took 3 or 4 of the most popular hosts with him.

I wish no one at JTV any ill will, but it is not looking good at the moment.
__________________
Michael